Villa de Reyes commemorates History of a mathematical space: geometric-abstract triptych

This monumental work by Federico Silva covers the walls that surround the stairs of the lobby of the “Javier Barros Sierra” auditorium, in the Faculty of Engineering of the UNAM.

In 1980, the Mexican painter and sculptor Federico Silva created, at the request of Javier Jiménez Espriú, then director of the Faculty of Engineering at UNAM, his mural History of a mathematical space on the walls surrounding the stairs in the lobby of the “Javier Barros Sierra”, in said puma entity.

The plastic artist born in Mexico City on September 16, 1923 and died just two days ago in Tlaxcala, at the age of 99, painted this geometric-abstract mural as a triptych.

In it, he used an innovative tool: the laser beam, which he projected through some prisms with the intention of achieving an integral composition on the three walls, always taking into account the spectator in movement and his path.

Silva made a reading and an interpretation of what space is, mathematically, a continuous succession of points to intervene in it as not a mathematician but an artist, based on its emotional, sensory and sensual character.

“It is a dialogue with mathematics, but also a dialogue between mathematics and other sciences, in this case physics and optics.

In this way we see that its geometric point of composition is based on the historical value of technology, represented by the laser beam that, in combination with some prisms, intervenes in space and gives rise to a continuous succession of rectilinear lines”, says Miguel Ángel Esquivel Bustamante, professor at the UNAM Faculty of Philosophy and Letters specializing in aesthetics and history of Latin American art (contemporary times).

According to the university professor, the abstract character of the mural opens up to what is emotionally the mathematical space and comes into contact with the sensations, feelings and the emotional impetus of the viewer.
“This is what makes Silva’s work unique compared to other murals in Ciudad Universitaria.

He theoretically consolidated the geometric starting point as a concept, which allowed him aesthetically, historically, politically, and ideologically to distance himself from all his colleagues, especially David Alfaro Siqueiros, from whom he learned the concept of dynamism and the opening of a space towards signs. that emotionally demand monumentality.

I like to highlight this aspect to break with the unequivocal criteria that muralism in Ciudad Universitaria responds to a single meaning.”

In the opinion of Esquivel Bustamante, the continuous succession of points, specified and enunciated by the constant presence of rectilinear lines, sensorially opens the spectator to the breadth of a space that goes beyond the physical existence of each one of the three walls where the mural it is embodied

“It can be said that there is an impulse, a beginning of movement that extends beyond the physical character of the walls and that this prolonged impulse is poetic, emotional,” he adds.