Francisco Toledo is widely regarded as Mexico's most important living artist. His work is characterized by a ferocious eroticism and union of the human and animal world. Despite Toledo's exceptional stature as an artist, he has shunned self-promotion, making it difficult for all but the most motivated collectors and curators to see his work.
In August of 2001, Toledo arrived in Los Angeles with the intention of painting for one year. Despite the turmoil of the post September 11th world, including heightened racism within the United States , Toledo stayed in Los Angeles and created a body of work which forms the basis of the current exhibition. "FRANCISCO TOLEDO | Recent Paintings" is the artist's first one-man show of new paintings in over a decade. As such, it presents a rare opportunity for the art viewing public.
One of the most dramatic of Toledo's new paintings is Bat Ikat. This work shows a bat in mid-air, flying through a brilliant red ground, which suggests both the intricate patterns of traditional Asian textiles and the flames of a raging fire. Painted in the months after 9/11, Bat Ikat evokes a vision of catastrophe, at once contemporary and primordial.
In a remarkable group of five recent works, Toledo brushes oil and encaustic onto wood panels treated with gesso, a plaster-like material. He then carves into the painting's surface, "releasing" the luminous under-layer of gesso. The resulting incised lines, at once delicate and aggressive, suggest both a wounding and a suturing together of the work's surface. Some of these, such as Murcielago Enojado, and Peces y Camarones, are among the finest achievements of the artist's career.
Toledo continually challenges himself to find new means of expression. In the past, he has used sand as a textural device in his oil paintings. In the new work, he rejects the use of sand, in favor of a surface minimally painted with thin, delicate washes of pigment. The resulting paintings have a subtle, watercolor-like transparency. Works such as Tortuga Con Lluvia de Huevos and Cangrejo Viejo exemplify this understated approach.
Francisco Toledo first exhibited at the Musée d'Art Moderne, Paris, at the age of 21. He has exhibited in many of the world's leading museums, including the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In the year 2000, Toledo received retrospectives at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid.