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Benjamín Serrano: Religion, Sex and Authority

After the urban exploration as part of the “Nortec Collective” with its creative explosion and the collaboration with various border artists of the stature of Raúl Guerrero, De La Torre Brothers, Gerardo Yépiz, Ramón Amezcua and Pepe Mogt, among many others; my work after Canal Once has been frequently related to border art.

Having lived in Tijuana brought many personal and professional satisfactions. I met Curator Olga Margarita Dávila collaborating for the “Cardinal 5” project, curated by Tijuana Innovadora; a unique experience creating next to great talents. In a special visit to the Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT), Olga presented us her most recent curatorial work at the time, the exhibition “Benjamín Serrano. Transcendence and Vanguard From Tijuana.” Many have tried to describe the Mysterious Magic of Tijuana, the seduction of its light and shadow. Serrano’s work captures this duality in an exuberant, accentuated, disturbing way, without the need for words.

Some time later, Olga contacted me to make the Editorial Design for the post-exhibition catalog of Benjamín Serrano. During the design process, I had the need to consciously analyze the evolution of the artist’s work and read the contents of the articles repeatedly. As a result of this intensive study of his life and work, a special connection was created with the misunderstood artist. Even when Serrano had some flares of recognition in life, I lamented the unknown shadow of his art and the pain of his contradictory life of excess and deprivation. I imagined him in the Artistic Glory of Paris hanging out with the bohemians that would become Great Masters with time; in long Tertulia nights and endless party as the lover, the madman and the genius. Through some of his works I was transported to his addictions of the substances and the flesh, to the secrets revealed by the high elites that allowed him temporary access to later forget him; to the constant cry for help in their spiritual search.

The result is an exquisite publication that delights (or disturbs?) the senses. It should be noted that much of Serrano’s work was damaged or lost. Olga and the CECUCT did a great job of research and documentation to rescue as much as possible, which still feels insufficient compared to the prolific productivity of the artist. The exhibition was held in 2012, but it was not until 2017 that the book was designed and printed. A piece of hard cover of 27 x 27 cms was proposed and the artist’s color palette was adopted. The editorial piece includes two unpublished murals printed in triptych format that extend to 68 cm on each side (136 cms in total). The textures, distinctive element of the design, were created from representative details of the works. Corresponding to the time and theme of each section, these textures frame the chapter covers and emphasize the linings, guards and spine.

This book presents the most complete and reasoned exhibition attempted to date on the work of Benjamín Serrano, an artist who assumed the avant-garde spirit as the foundation of life. The compilation includes paintings, sculptures and assemblages, surrealist works that appeal to intelligence as well as to emotions. This artistic heritage that amazes for its strength and quality, is disseminated so that new generations experience the work of this artist who sowed futures.

Production: Centro Cultural Tijuana, Secretaría de Cultura, Fundación Benjamín Serrano
Reaserch & Curator: olgaMargarita dávila
Editors: Armando García Orso, olgaMargarita dávila
Design: Angeles Moreno

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