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Don’t get it twisted, today is not Mexican Independence Day. Today is Cinco de Mayo, a holiday celebrated in America and the Mexican State of Puebla in commemoration of freedom and democracy during the American Civil War. That being said, we thought we’d take a look some contemporary artists in and around Mexico and its disapora on this holy day of drinking.

The surrealist painter Frida Kahlo and her mural painting lover Diego Rivera are Mexico’s most famous artists, forever married to Mexico’s pantheon of culture and history. However, our neighbor to the south, in the early to mid 20th century, was once a beacon for artists and revolutionary types who were inspired by the nation’s clever revolutionaries and artists, inspiring the likes of photographer Tina Modotti, Edward Weston and communists Che Guevara and Leon Trotsky, who also slept there.

Mexico’s tradition of producing fine artists is still popping today, tackling all the same issues as their predecessors, as well as new ones like homophobia and class inequality.

After the break see some of our favorite Mexican artists and artists of Mexican descent. 

Above: Untitled drawing by Hector Silva.

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Muralist and ladies man Diego Rivera was huuuuge in Mexico. Even his name was huge. Rivera, a communist and paramour of Frida Kahlo, was born Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez and was responsible for establishing the Mexican Mural Renaissance. He was commissioned to paint a mural in Rockefeller Center, but it was later destroyed because of its depiction of capitalism as an enslaver of man.

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One of Rivera’s well known works, “The Flower Carrier,” formerly “The Flower Vendor.” Oil and Tempura on Masonite.

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Besides Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo is one of the world’s most famous Surrealists. Most of Kahlo’s life was filled with pain, stemming from an accident that left her with a twisted spine and legs that had to be amputated later in life. She began painting while bedridden, often self portraits in dreamlike landscapes filled with animals and vegetation. Her physical pain had a companion, anguish, brought on by Diego Rivera and his love of the fairer sex. Kahlo had an appetite, too and is worshipped by lesbians worldwide. 

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Self Portrait by Frida Kahlo, 1944.  

This portrait is a break from her other portraits, in that Kahlo is in a stark landscape absent of animals and vegetation. She depicts herself in torment and in tears, her body broken and ridden with nails. 

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Publisher, artist, writer, educator and creative director are just some of the hats Ricardo Cortes has worn over the years. Cortes is based in Brooklyn, New York and is the founder of Magic Propaganda Mill. He made a name for himself after publishing “It’s Just A Plant,” a children’s book about marijuana and went up against Bill O’Reilly, emerging victorious.

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Detail of Cortes “ClayMill” mural.

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Hector Silva is an artist from Jalisco, Mexico who now lives and works in California. His drawings on paper draw inspiration from several sources and are known for their honest depiction of gay chicano men in L.A. and Chicago. Silva’s life in art started late, but he was encouraged to pursue his artistic career by actress and comedian Lucille Ball after he sent her a drawing when he was 25.

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Drawing by Hector Silva.