The Diego Code: Massive Screens Unveil Rivera's Meaning

Gregorio Luke creates a new genre for experiencing art

By Marco de la Paz
Published on LatinoLA: June 4, 2009

The Diego Code: Massive Screens Unveil Rivera's Meaning

Probably every art student, or even those of us who have taken a tour of Rockefeller Center in New York, know that the Mexican master muralist Diego Rivera's controversial Man at the Crossroads was destroyed because the image of Vladimir Lenin angered Nelson Rockefeller ‘«Ű but how many know that Rivera also had references to Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Sure, I saw the women drinking and smoking, but I thought it was all in good fun! That's not so much the case with Diego, as we learn from Gregorio Luke ‘«Ű a master of bringing art to life.

On Sunday, June 7 at the John Anson Ford Theatre, Luke brings Rivera's art to life-size.

Well, they are murals, so they are literally bigger than life.

Imagine IMAX as a live and outdoor theater concert, and you start to feel the scope of the experience. Luke has acquired massive screens and the latest grand-scale projectors to revive the murals of Mexican Art masters in such a dramatic way that you won't believe it's art.

Indeed, the show on June 7th is expected to be like nothing the art world has ever presented. The reason is rather simple ‘«Ű technology.

"Hey, think about it, there were no rock concerts before the electric guitar," Luke said at a gathering of supporters to launch his Mondo Mural events. "And there haven't been art shows like this ‘«™simply because the technology hasn't previously existed."

The opportunity to see Rivera's works in this format is one of the most unique art experiences ever. For example, some works ‘«Ű such as the above-mentioned Man at the Crossroads ‘«Ű have never been seen as intended. Pictures were taken before it was destroyed and the giant screens bring it to life. Although Rivera re-created the mural in Mexico, with some changes, but the sheer difference of venue changes the intended experience. Moreover, this format event gives audiences the first true view of Man at the Crossroads.

Other Rivera masterpieces, such as The Dream of a Sunday Afternoon at the Alameda Park, will provide the audience with the color and scope as intended. This has been impossible for generations because murals naturally weather.

Few things about art are experienced in a vacuum. Perhaps only museums and galleries present art in antiseptic, silent spaces, which is ironic because often the greatest art has been in the reception halls of political leaders and on buildings or streets. To separate art from the commotion of life (which is the impetus for most art) is like restricting oneself to the abstract. For this series, Luke has invited musical masters of the eras and, in some cases, singers and percussionists, to provide an oral context to the masterworks.

Luke is the perfect person to bring these murals to life-size. Currently on the Board of Directors for the Mexican Cultural Institute, he created his loyal following with creative tenures as the Director of the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA), as the former Consul of Cultural Affairs of Mexico in Los Angeles, and as the First Secretary of the Embassy of Mexico in Washington D.C.

But his strength is in passion rather than relying on his vast knowledge. One of the best lines I've seen about Luke came from Agustin Gurza in the LA Times: "Gregorio Luke gives cultural lectures with the fervor and reverence of a missionary hungry for converts. Luke speaks as if he's seen a vision. His [audience] can't help but see it too."

See it for yourself: June 7 at the John Anson Ford Amphitheater.


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