Francisco Toledo

About Artist: Born on July 17th, 1940 into a family of shoemakers and pig-butchers, Toledo spent only a short time in Juchitán on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec before moving with his family to the states of Veracruz and Chiapas. The young Toledo studied printmaking in Mexico City and had his first solo exhibition at the age of 19 in Fort Worth, Texas. After living for some years in Paris, he decided in 1965 to return to the Isthmus region of Oaxaca. Intent of recovering his native Zapotec ethnicity, Toledo has since devoted much of his energy to social projects. Thanks to him, cultural centers in Juchitán and Oaxaca City host exhibitions and house important collections of graphics, photographs and books. As a member of the pressure group Pro-Oax, Toledo has fought tirelessly to protect the architecture and ecology of his state. Predictably, Toledo's art is deeply rooted in the history and enduring presence of Mexico's native cultures. Often he takes as his subject the fauna of the Americas. But Toledo's work is always idiosyncratic and highly charged. In the words of Carlos Monsiváis, essayist and friend, Toledo is "animistic, rational, ferociously sexual, enamored of the abstractions of nature, capable of staggering brusqueness and timid tenderness..." Toledo's bestiaries and insectarios of grasshoppers, turtles, toads, rabbits and coyotes are frequently hybridized with human genitals. In one painting a woman is lost in a shoal of phallic fish; in several drawings the reclining body and elevated legs of the grasshopper resemble a mating couple.

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