If you ask me what my favorite movie or book or tv show is I’d be hard pressed to give you an answer. But if you ask me for my favorite song? “Heroes” by David Bowie. Hands down. Whenever I’m feeling down or a little lost or just need some inspiration I turn to it. I play it loud, sing my heart out and feel like I can do anything. Needless to say when he passed last year I was pretty heartbroken. Luckily, his legend lives on through his art and he remains an enduring part of the cultural landscape. In celebration of his genius, currently on view at Forest Lawn Museum is David Bowie: Among the Mexican Masters and I was lucky enough to preview the exhibit.
In 1997 David Bowie was scheduled to perform his first concert in Mexico City and to promote the show photographer Fernando Aceveś was assigned to take his portrait. Primarily a concert photographer this was his first chance to work intimately with an artist. Bowie was so pleased with the result that he asked Aceveś to accompany him for the week prior to the show and photograph him visiting Mexico City’s artistic treasures. The National Palace, Teotihuacan and the Frida Kahlo museum were among the the iconic locations on the itinerary and the resulting images give an intimate glimpse of the man behind the legend.
At the preview Mr. Aceveś was on hand to guide us around the exhibit. He explained that prior to the session he had been a fan of Bowie but, like most of us, only knew the legend. Over the course of the week he got to know the man and discovered a down to earth, kind gentleman. There was no entourage, no make up, no production. Just Bowie and his band-mates taking in the sights and marveling at the artistic icons of Mexico City. The session was a significant moment of Aceveś career and now, 20 years later, he is introducing the images to the public.
The resulting exhibit is a fascinating glimpse into the iconic figure. The images are large, colorful pieces that bring out the beauty of the city and Bowie himself. They offer an intimate portrait of a man completely enthralled by his surroundings and at ease in his own skin. They’re not so much images of a legend as of a happy and contented man discovering a new world of art and history.
David Bowie: Among the Mexican Masters is a fascinating exhibit and definitely worth seeking out. It’s on view through June 15 and admission is free so there’s no excuse to miss it.