Dr. Atl

Guadalajara, Jalisco, 1875 - Mexico City, 1964



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DR. ATL (Guadalajara, 1875 – Mexico City, 1964)


Gerardo Murillo, also known by the pseudonym Dr. Atl, successfully carried out the artistic goal he set for himself: rescuing landscape as modern art and endowing it with new meaning in accordance to the time in history. The result are as evident as they are surprising: Atl abandons small-scale brushwork, traditional perspective disappears, and above all, he introduces a completely new perception of landscape as Mexico’s historical and cultural memory.

Atl’s curved horizons-a magnificent application of Luis Serranos’s curvilinear perspective-are enriched by an explosion of pure color and the superimposition of visual layers given by his Atl colors, pigments the artist invented himself, based on dry resins that allowed for work on a wide range of surfaces. Such chromatic qualities turn landscape into a living entity that produces feelings and reveals nature as something both cosmic and monumental. (Source: "Gerardo Murillo, Dr. Atl: Masterpieces" by Vanessa L. Bohorquez on Dr. Atl: Masterpieces)

Perhaps due to his experience and skill with pastel on paper-from his first artistic phase-, and later with frescoes, he felt compelled to seek out less stable materials that could be applied to rigid supports. He was familiar with the technique known as encaustic, but it had the disadvantage of having to be applied hot, and this impeded the rapid strokes and spontaneity that the artist achieved with pastels. Around 1915 he invented a kind of color bar that could be applied cold, but with the sufficient drying and hardening time to be used rapidly and freely. He called them Atl color. They were a sort of encaustic made of wax, pigment, and resins, the artist made himself. In spite of the fact that technical and visual outcomes are quite different from those of pastels, the artist achieved innovative effects and also a stability and hardness that thoroughly delighted him. The Atl color application process (not unlike that of a crayon, and generally used for the finishing touches) produces a pointillist effect that was almost essential for achieving the sensations of atmosphere and the remarkable vibration of colors found in his works. (Source: "Painter of sensations", by Andrés Blaisten in Dr. Atl: Masterpieces)

Atl executed self-portraits throughout his life, a manifestation of his egocentric personality. His image and what it projected were of great importance to him, thus he reinvented his physiognomy and gestures according to his age and mood. (Source: "Painter of sensations", by Andrés Blaisten in Dr. Atl: Masterpieces)

A new genre of landscape: The Aeropaisaje (Air landscape). Proclaimed the need to create a new landscape genre, and consequently the term which should be defined.

In the universal language of our day have arisen neologisms related to air: aerodrome, aerostat, aerodynamic, airplane, airport, aerial photograph and a few others, but lack the proper word for a new interpretation of the landscape in the field of painting. Here's the word: AEREOPAISAJE (Air landscape).

The photograph found and fixed it. But photography provides only a mechanical picture of things and beings, viewed with one eye.

A camera, well managed from an airplane, makes wonders, but small, incomplete wonders. Our eyes are needed to cover the breadth of the world and turn them into beauty. Aeropaisaje is the optical consequence of a spatial position change due to upward movement of a propeller in the upper layers of the atmosphere.

Swift airplane leads us to the ethereal planes of Aeropaisaje.

Up, up! Up of the mountains and the clouds! (Now the landscape is below.)

Everything has changed. The horizons are widened; belittle the Earth’s wrinkles, the mass of a mountain flatten, valleys rotate; mountains that seemed huge actually are blue china bibelots on a table covered with wrinkled.

The ridges raise their tufted crests of snow-waves of a petrified sea. On a clear day, under the blue dome of the sky, the Earth is a wonderfully fantastic polychrome-landscape map of another planet lit by another sun.

But come the clouds. Cumulus clouds roll over the mountains and everything transformed. Among its vaporous wisps craters looming decayed, rough ridges of mountains, and chasms open in the bottom green valleys strewn mountains appear as toys.

The Aereopaisaje is the tumult of heaven and earth made rhythm of beauty in consciousness of man. (Source: "A new genre of landscape", by Dr. Atl, Mexico, June 1958)

 

Main Solo Exhibitions

 

1921 "Exposición de pinturas. Admire los paisajes de México. Entrada libre", Exconvento de la Merced, Mexico City

1933 "Exposición de pinturas. Admire los paisajes de México. Entrada libre", Exconvento de la Merced, Mexico City

1937 "Exposición de paisajes del Dr. Atl", Galeria de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City

1944 "El Valle de México. Pinturas y dibujos del Dr. Atl", Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

1948 "Valles y montañas de México", Museo Nacional de Artes Plásticas (MUNAL), Mexico City

1950 "Exposición paricutínea", Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

1958 "Aeropaisaje", Salón de la Plástica Mexicana, Mexico City

1984 "Dr. Atl, Exposición Retrospectiva", Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City

1984 "Dr. Atl, Exposición Retrospectiva", Palacio de Mineria, Mexico City

2011-2012 "Dr. Atl: Obras maestras", Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco, Mexico City

2011-2012 "Dr. Atl: Bocetos y dibujos", Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco, Mexico City