As with many countries that have a strong and globally recognised political playing field, much art from Mexico tends to deal with said politics, with both the suffering and vibrance of the area used as a subject for exploration. Shaped in Mexico is running this week at London’s Bargehouse, and the roots of this work are as potent as would be expected. 

Shaped in Mexico aims to highlight Mexican and Mexican-inspired art on a more global scale, though it is having much of the leg work done for it. Mexico is big, and getting bigger, not just as a wealthy holiday spot (though that must help) but as a centre for distinctive contemporary art. Much of the work in this group exhibition displays this distinctive look, with powerful colours, nature meeting commerce and fashion, and an overriding sense of death.

Alejandro Fournier characterises much that is popular about Mexican art, creating photographs that take in the vastly impressive yet, at times, forceful landscape while playfully addressing death, violence and natural decay. There are definite parallels to be drawn with fellow countryman Gabriel Orozco, who takes a loud and gutsy look at similar ideas, as well as contemporary high def photographers such as Gregory Crewdson.

In these images colours are pumped up to the max, with dollar signs and skulls dominating works and a sense of surrealism hanging over the entire set up. This feels like a reclaiming of Mexican cliches, confirmed by (or is this just us?) the photographer’s ‘Walter White-ish’ outfit in his self-portrait.

Also on show are Alexandra Clark, Christi Haupt, David Gremard, Federica Tavian, Irma Sofia Poeter, Luis Carrera Maul, Luis Enguita, Manolo Mendieta, Maru Rojas, Mauricio Cervantes, Oslyn Whizar, Oweena Fogarty, Pilar Enrich, Raul Cerrillo and Silvia Lerin.

Shaped in Mexico is showing until 12 September

Alejandro Fournier Portrait 9
Alejandro Fournier, $, Actions in Baja, 2009, Animation, Variables, Courtesy the artist and Shaped in Mexico
Alejandro Fournier, Water Mirror, 2002, Courtesy the artist and Shaped in Mexico
Alejandro Fournier, CD Juarez, Consumer Reports, 2008, Photograph, Courtesy the artist and Shaped in Mexico
Alejandro Fournier, Skull, 2009, Photograph, 130 x 90 cm, Courtesy the artist and Shaped in Mexico