January 27-June 15, 2017
When you first enter the space where David Bowie: Among the Mexican Masters is installed at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale, the voice of the late, great musician echoes off the walls. The looped video shows shots of Bowie laying paint onto a canvas and later talking directly to the camera about his creativity. He talks about painting. He talks about the people who inspire him. He explains why he likes waking up early in the morning, no matter how late he fell asleep the night before.
That pervasive Bowie mystique envelops the viewer throughout the exhibit, while viewing the photos Fernando Aceves shot of Bowie during his visit to Mexico City in 1997. During his Earthling album tour, Bowie took some time to take in the sights, such as the Frida Kahlo Museum and the Palacio de Bella Artes. In his color photographs, Aceves captures Bowie in his most pensive moments. In some photos, Aceves even catches Bowie looking in the same direction as the figures in the murals behind him. Near Diego Rivera’s iconic Man, Controller of the Universe (1934), Bowie looks out past the camera, his face seeming to mimic that of the figure at the center of the composition.
Even when the narrative of an outsider caught up in the exotic setting of a foreign land seems to interrupt the idyllic nature of the photographs, Bowie’s pure joy at his surroundings is contagious. While visiting the Frida Kahlo Museum, he exhibits an almost childlike wonder and joy, distilled by Aceves as if photographing an old friend. In documenting the interactions between Bowie and Mexico City, Aceves also captures the beauty of the metropolis.
The photographs chronicle the time Bowie spent in the area and the ways in which his personality transcended his music. In the wake of his death, Aceves gives us snapshots of Bowie that make us feel as if we were right next to him, watching him take it all in.