Francisco Toledo portrait

Francisco Toledo/ Francisco Benjamín López Toledo

Mexico 1940

Sculpture, Painting, Graphic Art

www.franciscotoledo.net

Francisco Toledo
Francisco Benjamín López Toledo
Male
Mexico
1940

Fame and recognition had come too late for many artists in history, many died while still misunderstood, just so their work could finally be accepted years, even decades after their deaths. But, Francisco Toledo has become a symbol and expression of the deepest myths of Mexico during his lifetime. This multitalented artist paints and sculptures, but arguably is most famous for his graphic artworks. His experience was enriched by his traveling to Europe in the 60’s when he crossbred artistic traditions of the Western Europe with the ones of his home state of Oaxaca, and Mexico in general. He didn’t stop there and his work continued to evolve into something that became an inspiration for many other artists, raisin Toledo’s status all the way to the stars, where he undeniably belongs.

He crossbred artistic tradions of the Western Europe with the ones of his homeland

Francisco Toledo - Bat in the Water, 2004 - Mono con Bicicleta, 2005, paper piece
Francisco Toledo – Bat in the Water, 2004 / Mono con Bicicleta, 2005

Artistic Family

Francisco Toledo was born of Zapotec parents in 1940 in Minatitlan, Oaxaca. From an early age, Toledo had demonstrated his ability to draw, and his father encouraged his son to accept the colors by painting the walls of their house. His grandfather Benjamin took Toledo to country trips, telling his popular stories of fantastic creatures along the way, thus increasing young artist’s imagination and inspiration. The artist studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de Oaxaca and the Centro Superior de Artes Aplicadas del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, where he studied graphic arts with Guillermo Silva Santamaria. Sometimes the whole family could be gifted in artistic ways, and Toledo’s certainly is, as his daughter Natalia writes poetry, and his other children, Laureana Toledo and Dr Lakra are artists, like their father.

The whole family is artistically gifted

Francisco Toledo - Dos Sapos, 2006
Francisco Toledo – Dos Sapos, 2006

Enriching His Style

In the early 1960s, Toledo traveled throughout Europe and eventually settled in Paris, France. Soon, he set himself up in the workshop of artist Stanley William Hayter. In 1965, Toledo returned to his home country and began using what he had learned in Europe to create a new style of Mexican Art. Shortly after, he had been recognized in Europe as a singular artist and celebrated by art critics for his “development of the mythic” and “his sacred sense of life.” He came home with a refined pictorial technique that would not stop enriching, as well as the influence of ideas of artists from different European schools such as Dürer, Paul Klee and Marc Chagall. But in reality, his greatest influence came from the codices collected pre-Hispanic symbols with all its rabidly contemporary forms. Toledo truly is a modern and illustrious painter of codices, a shaman willing to purify the spirit to return the enjoyment to the body. Settling in Oaxaca after the return from Europe, he produced paintings and stone, wood, and wax sculptures, as well as graphics. As a medium, graphics particularly intrigued him from early in his career because of the extraordinary range of effects available through printing and etching. Major exhibitions followed, and in 1973, he had a show in the Carl Finkler Gallery in Paris, and, in 1975, he had a show at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York. By 1980, his work was extensive enough for the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City to hold a retrospective.

After the return from Europe, he produced paintings and stone, wood, and wax sculptures, as well as graphics

Francisco Toledo - The One with the Sticky Tongue, 1988 - Proax's Cannon, 1996, on paper
Francisco Toledo – The One with the Sticky Tongue, 1988 / Proax’s Cannon, 1996

Traditions of Oaxaca and Art activism

His work is concerned with the cultural traditions of his birthplace, the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The myths, people, flora, and fauna of Oaxaca play major roles in many of his works. Anthropomorphized creatures and metamorphosed objects are a persistent aspect of his oeuvre. He has illustrated numerous books based on the ancestral stories of his people. These books include Chilam Balam, Guachi, and Sahagún. Pieces such as Chivo and Shoe and Toads show Toledo’s use of Oaxaca and animals. He has also created a series of 15 prints inspired by Franz Kafka’s “Report For an Academy”.

Toledo has spent much of his life promoting the arts in Oaxaca. In 1988, Toledo’s social and cultural concerns about his home state led to his participation in the establishment of an art library at the Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca (IAGO), which currently holds roughly 12,000 books dealing with numerous art forms and Mexican Art. He also founded the Museum de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca (MACO), the Patronato Pro-Defensa y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural de Oaxaca, a library for the blind, a photographic center, and the Eduardo Mata Music Library.

Francisco Toledo has had exhibitions in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Japan, Sweden, the United States, as well as other countries. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City.

The myths, people, flora, and fauna of Oaxaca play major roles in many of his works

Francisco Toledo - The Wanderer, 1989, contact
Francisco Toledo – The Wanderer, 1989

Remember the Past

Toledo has done all he could to preserve the heritage of his home state of Oaxaca, and the whole Mexico. He is considered as the most prominent live artist in his country, whose skills make his artworks vibrate as they strive for real life. Symbolically, they also represent the desire and the need of the Mexican people to save their traditions in this globalized world, where the drive for total destruction is ever-present. In those conditions, he stood up and gave his best at trying to keep all the beautiful traditions of his people alive.

Francisco Toledo currently lives and works in Oaxaca, Mexico.

All images copyright © Francisco Toledo

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2014Paper, Pencil & Ink: Prints & Other Works on PaperRuiz-Healy Art, San Antonio, TX, USAGroup
2009Francisco Toledo Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Santafé de Bogota, Colombia Solo
2008Francisco Toledo Galería Patricia Ready, Santiago, Chile Solo
2007UntitledStanlee & Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, University of El Paso, TXGroup
2007El Maestro Francisco Toledo: Art from Oaxaca 1959 – 2006 Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJGroup
2005Francisco Toledo: Grafica Reciente Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Ateneo de Yucatan, Mérida, Mexico Solo
2005Los pajaros: Serie de grabados de Francisco Toledo Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico Solo
2004Francisco Toledo: Recent Paintings Latin American Masters, Beverly Hills, CASolo
2004Los cuadernos de la mierda; de Francisco Toledo Museo de las Artes Universidad de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Mexico Solo
2004Francisco Toledo: Recent Graphic Works Latin American Masters, Beverly Hills, CA Solo
2003Francisco Toledo: Obra Gráfica Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales, Montevideo, Uruguay Solo
2003Francisco Toledo: Cuento del Conejo y el Coyote Museo de Arte de Zapopan, Zapopan, Mexico Solo
2002Francisco Toledo Obra Grafica para Arvi11974-2001 Galeria Arvil, Mexico City, Mexico; Museo de Anes Visuales de Santiago, Santiago de Chile, Chile Solo
2001Cuadernos de la Mierda Museo de Arte Contemporane, Oaxaca, MexicoGroup
2001Francisco Toledo Centro Cultural Borges, Buenas Aires, Argentina Solo
2001Obra Grafica para ArviI 1974-2001 Palacio de Bellas, Mexico City, MexicoGroup
2000Francisco Toledo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain Solo
2000Francisco Toledo Selected Works on Paper 1999-2000 Masters, Beverly Hills, CA Solo
2000Francisco Toledo Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK; Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain Solo
2000Zoologia Fantastica Casa de America, Madrid, SpainGroup
2000Francisco Toledo Bjennegarard Gallery, Copenhague, Denmark Solo
2000La Sombra del Deseo Galeria Juan Martin, Mexico City, MexicoGroup
2000Francisco Toledo Recent Works on Paper Etchings Lit Xilographies from 1999.2000 Museum of Latin Americ Beach, CA Solo
1998Summer Group Show Jason McCoy Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1996Selection of Latin American Masters Mary-Anne Martin- Fine Art, New York, NYGroup
1996Surrealism in Latin American Art Bochum, GermanyGroup
1996Fransisco Toledo Master Printmaker Latin American Masters, Beverly Hills, CA Solo
1993Death of Taste Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Chicago, ILGroup
1993Erotica Galeria Juan Martin, Mexico City, MexicoGroup
1993Los Cuadernos Insomnes Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Alfredo Zalce, Morella, Michoacán, MexicoGroup
1992Small-Scale Sculpture Felbach, GermanyGroup
1992Latin American Art Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, FranceGroup
1992Home Made in Oaxaca Monterrey, MexicoGroup
1991UntitledLatin American Masters, Los Angeles, CAGroup
1984UntitledMuseo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, MexicoGroup
1974UntitledMartha Jackson Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1971Dibujos de Francisco Toledo Galeria Arvil, Mexico City, Mexico Solo
1970Francisco Toledo Jack Misrachi Gallery, New York, NY Solo
1969Toledo. Obra Grafica Galeria Juan Martin, Mexico City, Mexico Solo
1968Francisco Toledo Galeria Juan Martin, Mexico City, Mexico Solo
1967Francisco Toledo Arthur Tooth & Sons, London, England Solo
1965Francisco ToledoGaleria Haaken, Oslo, Norway Solo
1965UntitledGaleria Misrachi, Mexico City, Mexico Group
1965Francisco Toledo Galeria Antonio Souza, Mexico City, MexicoSolo
1965UntitledSaidenberg Gallery, New York, NYGroup
1965Francisco Toledo Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris, France Solo
1964Francisco ToledoGalerie Rene Andrieu, Toulouse, France Solo
1964Francisco ToledoHamilton Galleries, London, England Solo
1963Francisco Toledo Galerie Karl Flinker, Paris, France Solo
1963Francisco Toledo Galeria Antonio Souza, Mexico City, Mexico Solo
1962Francisco Toledo Galeria Antonio Souza, Mexico City, Mexico Solo
1959UntitledGalería Antonio Souza, Mexico City, MexicoGroup