Francisco Eppens Helguera (1913-1990) is one of the most representative artists of Mexican nationalist art of the 20th century. Known for his paintings, sculptures, and monumental murals—many of them located in public administration buildings—his works combine pre-Hispanic, colonial, and European references combined to establish a Mexican visual identity.
The artist also stood out for his award-winning designs for Mexican postage and revenue stamps developed between 1935 and 1953 whilst working at the Office of Printing of Stamps and Securities (TIEV of Talleres de Impresión de Estampillas) under the Ministry of the Treasury, as well as for his redesign of the Mexican coat of arms. Commissioned by the then President, Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, and the Secretary of the Interior, Luis Echeverría Álvarez, his redesign is still used on government documents, coins and the national flag. Despite his significant contributions to Mexican modern art history, his work remains little studied, perhaps due to his close relationship with the Mexican political elite, particularly with the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Spanish for Institutional Revolutionary Party).
Unknown States constitutes a posthumous tribute to the artist and a critical exercise. On the one hand, the exhibition brings together a set of works by Eppens produced at different times to reassess the production of a pivotal artist for the development and legitimization of PRI post-revolutionary nationalism and to examine the significant impact it had on the sociopolitical life and culture of this country. On the other hand, the exhibition seeks to establish a distance from the iconographic models, strategies and forms of representation that have shaped the nationalist programs through artistic commissions made expressly for this occasion. The result is a series of works that not only reinterpret Eppens' legacy but also warn us about the importance of creating new visualities that problematize the idea of 'nation' and 'the national'.
Artists: Francisco Eppens Helguera - Paloma Contreras Lomas - Arnoldo Hernández - Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez - Wendy Cabrera Rubio - Marco Aviña
Curatorial assistance: Aline Hernández