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Adolfo Patiño "Adolfotógrafo"
(1954 - 2005)


Adolfo Patiño

© Pedro Meyer, 2005

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Self-taught artist. Founder of the experimental art group "Peyote y la Compañia", 1978-1984 and "Grupo de Fotógrafos Independientes", 1976-1984, with whom he presented the Ambulant Exhibition Series "Fotografia de la Calle". He was also the founder of the vanguardist gallery "La Agencia", 1987-1993.

Photographer, painter, sculptor and installation artist, his latter work tended to be readymades. Since his first exhibition in the now extinct Chapultepec Gallery in 1983, wood remained his medium of preference through his artistic career. Another constant motif in his work was the use of red roses, which became an iconographic symbol in his later work. Polaroid pictures, performances, installations, paintings, art-object, drawings, sculpture, video and super 8 film were amongst his favorite mediums.

Adolfo also participated as jury at the VII Photography Biennial, at the first exhibition at the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City. Since 1983 to 2005 he realized more than twenty individual exhibitions in wich he always involved photography.

In 1982 he received an honorific mention at the Second National Meeting of Youth Art; amongst his other recognitions we can highilight a painting acquisition award at the third National Meeting of Youth Art, 1983, an honorific mention at the first Biennal in la Habana, Cuba, 1984, and an honorific mention at the first Biennal in Monterrey, México, 1992.


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The image of Adolfo Patiño, Mexican photographer takes me to the last years of the past century. In those days he owned an art gallery “La Agencia” in Colonia Roma in Mexico City. I went to see him and bought a Frida Kahlo t-shirt that I still have.

It was not until the symposium "Reflexión de la Imagen"(Reflection of the Image) in 1991, where I was invited by Alejandro Castellanos to talk about the Mayo brothers, when I saw Adolfo Patiño again. I think he had a relationship with Laura Anderson then. I remeber him as witty,cheerful and active man. Was he an artist-Photographer or a Photographer-Artist? I thought he had a mind of his own.

A few years later, Elisabeth Ferrer had begun the project A Shadow Born of Heart. New Photograph in Mexico, 1995, with a cover by Adolfo Patiño. A portrait of Afdolfo and Armando, joined together by a heart. A proper collage. Patiño was looking back to the European avant-garde. Was he flirting with Dada? His artistic support oft his work in those days includad B&W photos of Mexsican indigenous people and color of the Modern Americans. We could say that his work in painting terms was “well cooked”. His series "Elementos para la navegación" (1991-92) is an autobiographic work. The photo as a document, as introspection, as family protrait. But also as a field for experimentation, for the application of new techniques and renewal of languages.

Elisabeth Ferrrer said so “his photography becomes a way of spiritual exertion, a way of defining values and one’s place in the world.

This reflection about “ones place in the world” seemed to be on the middle-aged artist. His words to the newspaper “La Jornada” seemed to confirm it: “I am at the threshold of a rebirth, I was born in a moment of wolrd decadence, since art no longer has a philosophical meaning and is a commercial product, with no identity due to globalization”.

I am sorry that because of his loss of equilibrium, alone in his home he cannot be a fellow of the National Artists Endowment , receive an “Honoris Causa” degree by UNAM, or see his retrspective at Museo Carrillo Gil.

It is frequent that the independent artists cannot cope with academic boundries of Art institutions.

I met Adolfo Patiño again at the 10th anniversary party of Centro de la Imagen, a celebration where both the high and low ends of Mexican photo shared drinks at the same venue, a generous night filled with flashlights, dancing, and libido everywhere. An unforgettable night of young phto masters celebratin their success and photojournalists selling low priced signed copies to get the cab- fare to get back home.

I went to the library to look for a catalog of his work or to see if he was in the Rio de luz collection or a small place in the Litografica Turmex collection, but did not find his name amongst the great masters of Mexican Photography.

An American colletor might have bought his work , or his work could be found at the Alvarez Bravo phototheque or at Centro de la Imagen. Oh That elusive Eternity! A deep revision of the contribution of this untamed artist is in order . He passed away with no warning -Death makes no invitaions, it just takes you away- at the prime of his life, he had a mature work, clear ideas and a great will to live.

In this script that this life of ours is, we forget thet the future is a blank page in which the random lights and shadows are written down.

It is now the turn of Mexican art curators to be generous with the work of Adolfo Patiño.

Manuel García
Art Critic.