Palabras de la Embajadora Martha Bárcena en la inauguración de Dream of Reality: An Homage to Joy Laville from its Kimberly Collection.

Instituto Cultural de México en Washington, D.C.

13 de febrero de 2019


  • I want to thank Minister Fierro, Director of this Institute, and Beatriz Nava, who worked very hard to put together this exhibition to honor one of our dearest and brightest artists: Joy Laville.


  • I would also like to extend my deepest gratitude to Joy Lavillle’s son, Trevor, for being here with us tonight. We are honored to receive you in this Institute. We hope you can feel at home this evening.


  • All of the paintings in this exhibition come from our very own Kimberly collection:

This collection comprises over 100 artworks of Mexican modern art, donated by Elena Guajardo Kimberly, in 1994, that must be displayed at the Institute at least every two years.


  • We decided that this year’s exhibit of this Collection should be devoted as a tribute to the life of the great Joy Laville.


  • The works of Laville are presented in dialogue with some of her contemporaries, such as Roger von Gunten, Leonora Carrington and Gunther Gerzso.


  • Laville had a close friendship with these artists, and they shared similar thematic obsessions and the fact that they were immigrants who learned to love Mexico as their main home.


  • HELEN JOY LAVILLE led a rich and fascinating life:


She was conceived in India; born on the English seaside, spent her early years in Canada and then moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.


  • She used to say that she was a true Mexican painter because that is where she took her first formal painting classes.


  • Laville arrived in Mexico without speaking a word of Spanish, but she was captivated by the country and its landscape.


  • Soon enough, she became a member of the artistic circles that included the other foreign artists I mentioned before (Gerzso, von Gunten and Carrington).


  • She spent long periods of her life in London, Paris and Greece but decided to come back to Mexico where she painted every day as long as she could.


  • The work of Laville has been described as quiet, deliberate and poetic. It projects inner peace.


  • Its simplicity can also be deceptive, because it is rich in emotions. It conveys mélancholy, sadness and tension which makes it so unique.


  • Her name, Joy, was a prediction of her life, because she brought happiness and enriched the lives of everyone close to her:


  • From her beloved husband, writer Jorge Irbagüengoitia, whose words and book covers became associated with her art, to the many other Mexican artists and intellectuals that she touched across decades from Carrington, to Sandra Pani and Mario Lavista, amongst many others.
  • Joy passed away last year at the age of 94 in her house in Jiutepec, Morelos, surrounded by the paintings that shaped an era of Mexican contemporary art.


  • But even if she is no longer here with us, her work will be eternal for everyone to enjoy.


  • Thank you very much and I hope you will enjoy the exhibition.