American Abstraction · Carlos Mérida

Ralli Museum Marbella presents a new temporary exhibition dedicated to the artist Carlos Mérida (Guatemala, 1891 – Mexico, 1984). The exhibition will be housed in a new space in the Museum that has not been visited until now, heralding the start of a new concept within what is currently on offer.

The exhibition American Abstraction · Carlos Mérida includes nine lithographs by the artist Carlos Mérida, forming part of the album “A Poem to the Sacred Book”, created in 1978; this title refers to the Sacred Book of the Maya or Sacred Book of Popol Vuh.

Mérida was one of the most important figures in Mexican art and abstract art in general. His language, based on the combination of figurative pre-Columbian elements with abstract modern language, alongside the presence of muralism, Cubism, Surrealism and the Mesoamerican artistic tradition, is considered his great contribution to art. He uses this to propose a new and true American national art.

Both in his work and in his life, he defends the idea that the American tradition is the result of an inheritance from the pre-Columbian world. In Mérida’s words, “if we want to do fine painting, a current national expression, let us proceed along with the aboriginal artificers: let us saturate ourselves with the environment, let us know how to capture the intimate content of things and listen to our self, ‘our idiosyncrasies’, our nature.[1]

As well as this commitment to everything “national”, Mérida understands that art should not imitate reality, but rather develop as a parallel and subjective universe in which elements lose their former meaning to become a poetic and aesthetic object.

In this sense, the lithographs that make up this exhibition must be understood as visual poetry, rather than as illustrations of texts from the sacred book which were intended to offer new versions containing the essence of the poem that makes up the text. In Mérida’s own words, “The fragments of the text that serve as the theme for the lithographs in this album were taken from Adrián Recinos’ version […] They concentrate their extraordinary realm into a few lines and place us within their very spirit, where the lithographs aspire to originate. Our purpose was not to create an illustration or an allegory, but to penetrate the mythological prodigy in order to nourish ourselves and offer very free versions that have something of the poem’s character.[2]

His notion of plastic art had a great deal to do with his initial musical training (which he had to give up due to hearing problems),his Maya-Quiché heritage and his contact with European avant-garde movements, especially Cubism, Surrealism and abstract art.


Find out more about this new space here.


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[1] Carlos Mérida, “Dos pintores nacionalistas: Ricardo X. Arias y Erasto Cortés”, Nuestra Ciudad, Órgano del Departamento del Distrito Federal, September 1930, p.10, FDCM. Taken from: TORRES, Leticia. Aproximación a las ideas estéticas de Carlos Mérida. Ensayos abrev. Ian. INBA, Mexico, 2013. ISBN 970-9703-58-7. P.6. Available at: (date consulted: 13/02/2022)

[2] Carlos Me?rida. Un canto al Libro Sagrado. Galeri?a Arvil. 1978

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