Sofía Solís, scholar, discusses her study and analysis of the work of Nahm B. Zenil, currently part of The Mexican Museum's online exhibitions.
Nahum B. Zenil is a Mexican artist who often uses his own self-portrait as the principal model for a cultural critical interpretation of Mexico, especially concerning homosexuality and mestization. Zenil was born in 1947 in the state of Veracruz. In 1959, he enrolled at the Escuela Nacional de Maestros in Mexico City, from which he graduated in 1964. It was during this period in which Zenil became interested in painting. He later entered the Escuela Nacional de Pintura y Escultura in Mexico City in 1968. He is also one of the founding members of the Semana Cultural Gay, which occurs yearly at the Museo Universitario del Chopo. His art is often compared to that of Frida Kahlo, in which the self becomes the principal object of their paintings letting the viewer discover the artists as individuals as well as the broader social and cultural contexts in which they lived through the medium of self-portraiture.
Sofía Solís obtained their Doctor of Philosophy from Autonomous University of Barcelona, authoring the PhD dissertation De indio y española: mestizo. La pintura de Nahum B. Zenil: identidad nacional e identidad sexual. Solís is a researcher at the Communication Department of the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes, Mexico. They have developed different post-doctoral projects in Mexico (UAA, UAM-Xoc), Slovakia (Academy of Performative Arts, Slovak Academy of Sciences) and Latvia (Academy of Latvian Culture) linked to the cross-cutting study of cinema and gender, and has published articles relating to feminist film theory and decolonial thinking in audiovisual media.
Solís' interpretation not only analyzes the artist's work from the context of Mexican nationalism, but also includes a genealogy of the homosexual movement in Mexico. Solís' thesis is that "the pictorial work of Nahum B. Zenil jeopardizes the discursive harmony that has held national identity and sexual identity attached to the traces of the nationalist plane." According to the author, the constant reiteration of the homosexual desire that can be seen in Zenil's work displaces the monolithic vision of the existing gender norm in the country.
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