Rufino Tamayo’s dialogue is consistent with many of the universal themes that preoccupied the artist throughout his life; music, art, nature and humanity. Moreover, it reveals his well known abstracted figural style – an admixture of modernist fragmentation of form, poetic symbolism, realism, and a haunting archaism – which propelled the Mexican artist onto the international scene in the late 1930’s. Tamayo fused a Cubo-Surrealist Modernist approach with Mexican-influenced color and light, while his textured surfaces, while painterly and lyrical, also evoke the primitive and savage. His paintings focused on the human figure, animals and the cosmos and resulted in a coloristic synthesis of form.
Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, to Zapotec parents, Tamayo attended the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plasticas and was appointed the head of the Department of Ethnographic Drawing at the Museo Nacional de Arquelogia, Mexico City. Although a noted figure on the art scene there, he had major differences with the reigning Mexican muralists over didactive content and style and relocated to New York. His homecoming to Mexico was marked by a solo exhibition at the Palacio Nacional de Bellas Artes in 1948. Tamayo exhibited at the Venice Biennale and created murals for the Palacio Nacional and UNESCO in Paris. He traveled Europe and lived in Paris from 1957 to 1964. Tamayo permanently resettled to his country, where he died in Mexico City.