Carlos Mérida at Polytechnic Institute

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Carlos Mérida at Polytechnic Institute “Poetic Geometry of Color”.

Temporary Exhibition dedicated to the artist.

"La Esmeralda” conocida escuela de pintura en la Ciudad de México.
“La Dama de la Esmeralda” lithography, Carlos Mérida, 1979.

Carlos Mérida (Guatemala, 1891-Mexico City, 1984) painter, sculptor and muralist.

The temporary exhibition “Carlos Mérida. Poetic geometry of color” is presented at the Centro Cultural Jaime Torres Bodet, in the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico.

Inaugurated on March 30, 2016 the exhibition will be open until the end of May.

On display are 150 pieces of his work, including paintings, sculptures, texts, tapestries, relatively unknown sculptures, graphic works and photographs.


Carlos Mérida in his search

If one looks closely at the artist’s life and work, one may notice that Mérida was always close to the creative painting movements of his contemporaries. Born in Guatemala in 1891, he studied sculpture and painting but later under influence of writer Jaime Sabartés, who was Pablo Picasso’s friend and his assistant.

Mérida moved to Paris in 1910, where he became acquainted with the group of painters known as the School of Paris; working in the studio of Amadeo Modigliani and beginning a friendship with Diego Rivera. Mérida also associated with Kees van Dongen, Hermenegildo Anglada , Roberto Montenegro and Angel Zarraga.

In 1919, on recommendation of the poet José Juan Tablada, whom he had met in New York, and probably also because of his friendship with Diego Rivera, he relocated to Mexico.

In Mexico he participated in the Mexican Muralist movement, helping Rivera ; in 1922 with the Anfiteatro Simon Bolívar murals, located downtown in the Historic Center of Mexico City.

Returning to Paris

In 1927 Mérida returned to Paris, where he resumed his relationship with abstract and surrealist painting and some of their representative celebrities, including Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Joan Miró.

He then moved back to Mexico in 1929, and re-started his professional career, working on multiple activities and developing his artistic talents in book illustration, ballet stenography, and theater costume design.

In those years Mérida appointed as Director of the Gallery School of National Theater of Mexico, in 1929, and Director of the School of Dance of the Public Education Secretary, in 1932.

His own style

With the passage of time, Carlos Mérida gradually around the early 1930s started to develop his own style, distancing himself from the leftists’ political message and the evocative narrative painting of the Mexican revolution as represented by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco.

As Mexico underwent a period of industrialization, and the Mexican revolution was getting behind by the late 1930s. Mérida’s work was trending more toward abstract expressionism, and he began to draw on his Indian roots in Guatemala and Mexico. In those years he also worked as a draftsman with archaeologist Manuel Gamio, who by the late 1920s and early 1930s was doing a careful description of the archaeological findings then being unearthed in Guatemala .

Carlos Merida’s painting in the Architecture

In 1949 Mérida worked on the murals of the Secretaría de Recursos Hiráulicos. In 1950, commissioned by architect Mario Pani, he prepared a mural, later destroyed, at the Centro Infantil of the Multifamiliar “Presidente Miguel Alemán” (on Avenida Coyoacán, in Mexico City).

In the same years he also created other murals with Mesoamerican Indian themes in the Multifamiliar Benito Juárez, which were almost destroyed in Mexico City 1985 earthquake. Some parts of the rescued murals still can be seen at the Unidad Habitacional “Fuentes Brotantes” del ISSTE in Tlalpan.

In Guatemala, Mérida prepared the glass mosaic “La mestiza de Guatemala”, 1956 . Installed at the Municipal Palace of Guatemala

In the 1960s Mérida worked with architects Pedro Ramírez Vázquez  and Luis Barragán  in “Los adoratorios”, a stained-glass wall installed in the “Cora Huichol” gallery of the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City (1964), and on “La confluencia de las civilizaciones en América”, a mural installed at the Civic Center of San Antonio, Texas in the United States (1968).

Maya-Quichés roots

"Cielos lumínicos" litografía, Carlos Mérida, 1941
“Cielos lumínicos” lithography, Carlos Mérida, 1941

Mérida’s abstract paintings show his search to get closer to his Maya-Quiché’s cultural roots in his native land; when we contemplate his abstract works, these roots seem to speak to us as Mayan constructions. We can see mysterious interior spaces with a variety of color tonalite and geometries.

Not only are there temples and other geometric constructions, there also seem Mayan ceremonies, depicted in Mayan frescoes and on pre-Hispanic vessels and implements.

At the same time, in these works we also may see the green and blue colors of nature, sea and sky.

Carlos Mérida a Creator

In 1965 Carlos Mérida honored with the gold medal of the Dirección General de Cultura y Bellas Artes of Guatemala. and the Museo de Arte Moderno de Guatemala bears his name. Mérida made his permanent residence in Mexico, but never became a Mexican citizen.

In 1980 Mexico’s Secretaría de Relaciones honored him with the Águila Azteca Mexican Order for his contributions to Mexican culture. Carlos Mérida died in Mexico City in 1984, at the age of 93.

Carlos Mérida temporary exhibition

This temporary exhibition is part of the events organized to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the opening of the IPN National Polytechnic Institute.

The exhibition can be visited in the Centro Cultural Jaime Torres Bodet which is in Avenida Wilfrido Massieu s/n, on the corner of Avenida IPN. Colonia Zacatenco. Free admission.


Background in science and technology. Former executive responsibilities in the telecommunications and chemical industries. Modern painting and contemporary art. Enjoys biking and walking. Reading and good films. Now in web publishing