Hilda Palafox is one of the most celebrated contemporary Mexican artists. Her background is in graphic design and her work is strongly influenced by it – and by the traditions of her homeland.
The moment you arrive at the gallery Proyectos Monclova in the fancy Polenco district of Mexico City on this Saturday afternoon in March, you know this is the place to be. In front of the art space with its spectacular blue facade, young creatives are having a drink, inside they are strolling amidst the bold and intense paintings that show women dealing with The Effort to Find Oneself, which is how Hilda Palafox named her first show here. And the graphic designer and illustrator, who has become one of Mexico’s famed contemporary artists, knows what she is talking about. Her works, which are influenced by graphic design as much as by Mexican art and heritage, visualize the struggle to find balance, strength, and her own way. We talked to Hilda Palafox about her path from being a graphic designer and working in an ad agency to becoming an artist, about drawing as a form of dancing, and about being a woman in today’s times.
About the six years you worked as a graphic designer in an ad agency you said “I never felt less creative in my life”. What went wrong? Hilda Palafox: That was right after I graduated from the design school here in Mexico City and I was really happy to get this job. All my friends said that working in advertising is the best thing that can happen to you, because you travel all the time and probably win Lions in Cannes. But I never felt connected to this world. Everybody around me came up with thousands of ideas, but I just didn’t speak that language. I also really, really missed doing something with my hands. For as long as I can remember, I have always been drawing or building little things. But in the agency, I had to sit in front of a computer the whole time. That wasn’t for me.