Almost everyone who visits Mérida is at least aware of La Casa de Montejo on the southern end of the city’s main plaza.
The estate is one of the oldest and best-preserved examples of Plateresque colonial architecture in Mexico. Though several changes have been made to its facade over the centuries, its basic design has remained virtually intact.
Nowadays, Casa Montejo is owned by Citibanamex, though that may soon be changing, and open to the public as a museum. The historic home is full of artifacts including fine European furniture, several sets of china, and artworks featuring portraits.
But not everyone is aware that Casa Montejo also holds temporary art exhibitions, some of which have been truly excellent. An example of this can be seen today in the exhibition titled “Detrás de una máscara,” or “Behind a Mask,” by Oaxacan artists Jacobo Ángeles and his wife María Mendoza.
The exhibition is made up of 36 pieces of art representing an imaginative fusion of mesoamerican mythological animals, as well as masks and two large painted canvases.
Both the wooden masks themselves and the sculptures of mythological animals possess a quality that could be described as carnivalesque.
Several of these colorful wooden sculptures share many similarities with Mexico’s famous alebrijes. However, the creators argue that the inspiration for these artworks is to be found more in the Mixe-Zapotec culture of Oaxaca than in the work of 20th-century Mexican folk art.
Aside from the husband-and-wife team principally credited with these works, their creation also involved the world of another eight artists who worked for up to a year on each piece.
The two large paintings also on display share many of the characteristics of the masks and sculptures, but are much darker and could even be described as macabre.
Though each of the pieces in the collection is quite different, they all share a similar “fantastic” aesthetic which is complemented by a gregarious use of color.
Several of the artworks contain elements such as fossils, as well as gold and silver laminate.
The Detrás de una máscara exhibit is free and open to the public at the Casa de Montejo from Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sundays from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. Free guided visits are also offered at noon and 4 p.m.
There is no listed end date published for this temporary exhibit, but with news that CitiGroup will be selling off Banamex and all of its real estate holdings, there has been speculation that Casa de Montejo may be closing to the public sooner rather than later.