Trinity students and the San Antonio community came out to the opening of the art exhibit “Poems from Neruda’s Canto General, with illustrations by David Alfaro Siqueiros” Friday, Feb. 21 in the Michael and Noemi Neidorff Art Gallery. The opening featured remarks about the making of the portfolio, and a poetry reading by Jenny Browne, assistant professor of English.
The art exhibit features poems from Pablo Neruda’s “Canto General” and illustrations that Siqueiros made corresponding to Neruda’s poetry. The two artists’ relationship came about through pivotal circumstances.
“It was in 1940 when he first arrived in Mexico, four days after the assassination of Trotsky. At the time, Siqueiros was on the land and led the initial failed attempt to assassinate Trotsky and was hiding out in the hills. Two months after Neruda arrived, Siqueiros was captured,” said William Fisherm, San Antonio Neruda aficionado. “Neruda was summoned to the presidential palace in Mexico City and was asked to help spirit Siqueiros out of the country, which he did, without the permission of his superiors and granted him a visa. He helped Siqueiros escape from Mexico to Chile.”
Because of his actions, Neruda was suspended without pay from his job as a Consul General of Chile. His association with Siqueiros also made it seem as if he was complicit to Trotsky’s assassination, a suspicion that was surprisingly cultivated in the United States. The events surrounding Neruda’s work in Mexico would have long reaching effects.
“The CIA in 1966 issued a whisper campaign that kept Neruda from being awarded the Nobel Prize. The CIA directly, and through some cultural organization that it sponsored, got in contact with some of the voters in Sweden and ultimately had the prize delayed by five years,” Fisherm said.
The full edition of “Canto General” was published in 1968 and includes two volumes: one with Neruda’s poetry and one with Siqueiros illustrations. Pablo Neruda received the Nobel Prize in 1971. The exhibit will be up until Mar. 8.
The reception also included a musical performance by the daughter of famous, and recently deceased, Chilean musician Rafael Manriquez ““ Marci Manriquez and her husband Ricardo Valdivieso. The performance included both her own original music and that of her father.
“Rafael Manriquez was a wonderful singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. Moving from Chile, he lived in the Bay area for many, many years and accepted our invitation to be with us and passed away very unexpectedly last year,” said David Speener, professor of anthropology and sociology. “But the one silver lining that I discovered was he has a daughter who’s a wonderful singer, songwriter and musician.”
Rafael was highly influenced by the poetry and political activism of Pablo Neruda and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Much of his music was influenced by Neruda’s work.
“We are here to honor the exhibit of Siqueiros and Neruda that were held so warmly in my father’s heart,” said Marci Manriquez. “My father published two CDs of music using the poetry of Neruda one with the Sonetos and the other one was a collection of various works of Neruda.”