Mexico - The Painting of a "Gay" Emiliano Zapata Causes Controversy
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Emiliano Zapata was one of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution before he was assassinated in 1919, at 39. Many Mexicans still consider him a hero. The painting "The Revolution" shows a naked shoe, with heels and pink overcoat, on a sexually excited horse Zapata’s “feminization” has inflamed the admirers of the revolutionary leader. Among the protesters were many communal farmers who admire Emiliano Zapata – who was a poor peasant – for his fight against land appropriation by the rich landowners.


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” BURN IT; BURN IT” - With these shouts a group of protesters broke into the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, protesting against a painting that shows the revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata in a striking and unconventional pose. They screamed, denouncing that the painting, which shows Zapata naked, with high heels and pink overalls, mounted on a horse with an erection. The grandson of the revolutionary, Jorge Zapata González, demands that the painting be removed. “For us relatives, this denigrates the figure of our general painting him gay,” said Zapata González, adding that the family would sue the artist and the National Institute of Fine Arts if they did not withdraw the work.


Fabián Cháirez Feminization of Zapata 


They made their protest in front of the museum in the center of Mexico City, some shouting insults against homosexuals, which generated a counter-demonstration of those who defend sexual diversity. There were clashes between both parties. Clashes between members of the LGBT community and Zapata supporters There were clashes between members of the LGBT community and Zapata supporters.


gay zapata


The term “Zapata” has become a trend on Twitter, with tens of thousands of users expressing both their support for diversity and objecting against painting. Protesters said they would block the entrance to the museum until the painting was removed. The work, by Fabián Cháirez, is entitled “The Revolution” and is part of an exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of Zapata’s death.


zapatistas en bellas artes 

A Group of Protesters Occupies the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City

The exhibition includes 141 works of art from 70 collections. Although Fabián Cháirez’s painting is from 2014 and had already been exhibited on another occasion, he received more attention this time, when the Ministry of Culture used it to promote the exhibition through his Twitter and Facebook pages. Fabián Cháirez expressed that the idea for the painting came up when he noticed “glorified masculinity” in most Zapata representations.


Zapata Gay on Horse


 “There are some people who are bothered by bodies that do not obey the rules. In this case, where is the offense? They see an offense because (Zapata) is feminized,” he said.


Palacio de Bellas Artes mexico city 


Luis Vargas, the curator of the exhibition, said that the painting was simply an artistic representation that generates debates on the issues of Mexican society, including homosexuality. Museum officials insist that the painting will not be removed, although protesters have threatened to return daily until their demand is met.




AMLO and Painting of Zapata


Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador asked to avoid violence and defended the freedom of expression of artists.  After peasant organizations, they will enter the Palace of Fine Arts demanding that Emiliano’s work be removed. Zapata after Zapata, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador asked not to censor the works of Fabián Cháirez. He added that the manifestation of the National Union of Agricultural Workers (UNTA) “does not necessarily respond to the disagreement manifested by the Zapata family. They did so on their own decision,” and exempted the family of the leader from blame. AMLO has mentioned the possibility of reuniting these relatives with the author. Said the President, who has said that he will reunite Zapata’s relatives with the painter of said work so that they reach a peaceful agreement.


Fabián Cháirez Painting

Artist Fabián Cháirez Painting


fabian pintura zapata


The Mexican Artist Who Challenges Sexist Culture Through His Paintings


It is estimated that seven women are murdered in Mexico each day. In 2011, 72 out of 100 women living in Mexico City were victims of some form of violence, be it by their partners or by someone else. 52.7% had suffered some form of sexual violence (harassment, abuse, threats), and 10% of all women ages 15 to 29 who died in Mexico in 2015 were murdered. Sexist culture or Machismo has a powerful influence in Mexican society. It has helped shape the notion of how the ideal man should be: tough, strong, masculine, violent. The consequences of this toxic understanding of masculinity has led to increasing statistics of violence against women. The problem has no simple solution, yet there are some Mexican artists who are fighting to alter the status quo through their work.

Rudolf Nureyev Fabián Cháirez 

Rudolf Khametovich Nureyev - Soviet ballet Dancer and Choreographer


Fabián Cháirez is one of those artists. Born and raised in the southern state of Chiapas, Fabián attempts to redefine masculinity through his paintings.


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By depicting men as feminine beings, the artist questions the toxic gender roles deeply ingrained in Mexican society and begs the viewer to challenge their legitimacy. His work functions both as a powerful commentary and as an invitation to free ourselves from gender limitations that are arbitrarily defined.


Fabián Chairez Two Popes

Fabián Cháirez - The Two Popes


He accomplishes this by portraying his characters standing or lying in sensual, homoerotic poses, with their luscious lips and seductive gazes directed towards the audience. These are not the tough machos commonly seen in Mexican art and advertisements. Instead they are tender, vulnerable men.


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To drive his point even further, he surrounds his characters with popular images that have become synonymous of his country’s culture: wrestling masks, sombreros, agave plants. By including these elements, his models and their surroundings become undeniably Mexican, something that breaks with common conceptions of manhood.


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The wrestling mask in particular works as a powerful symbol of Mexican masculinity. In an interview he made back in 2015, when a collection of his work was exhibited in Mexico City, the artist explained how he sees masculinity as a mask forced upon men from infancy.


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This mask is a set of rules that tell how you should talk, stand, and walk, and they’re dictated by stereotypes of manhood ever present in popular culture and media. By portraying his men wearing a wrestling mask, Fabián speaks out against the power gender stereotypes have, in terms of hiding our true nature and therefore limit our life experiences.


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 The bright colors he uses play an important role in this dynamic as well. In the same interview, Fabián explained that he wanted his canvases to look like candy. The bright pinks, purples, and reds, present in a great deal of his work, have this effect. They immediately catch your attention, like bubble-gum wrappers on display at the supermarket, inviting you to take a bite.

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Fabián Cháirez’s thrilling paintings may seem simple at first glance, but his homoerotic depictions of Mexican men work as powerful tools of transgression.


el Santo Con la Vivora


By forcing us to look closer at the ridiculous definitions of masculinity and femininity we arbitrarily define in societies, the Mexican artist asks us to start new dialogues that might lead to more inclusive communities, without the restrictive nature of gender roles.


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Mask from back


Fabián attempts to redefine masculinity through his paintings. By depicting men as feminine beings, the artist questions the toxic gender roles deeply ingrained in Mexican society and begs the viewer to challenge their legitimacy.


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