Drug-Related Murders Inspire Mexican Art

"The thing is that having the photograph," he said, "it's already an abstraction of what's really there. I don't have to live it. I don't need to really look at this as a person's throat slit. I can look at it as a shape, a sort of oval with another reddish oval here. That's how I look at it. That's how I get by."

Flicking through the pages of a few trashy newspapers recently, Graham stumbled across graphic pictures of murder scenes that keep these publications flying off the shelves.

He had to go through five newsstands before finding one of those publications in particular.

On the difference between the readers of the gory publications and those who buy his paintings, Graham said, "I would hope that they buy my work because of the way I paint. My paintings are not about the images in the magazine. They are about the way I paint and, hopefully, that comes through."

Mexican Life as Art

Rodriguez's work is yet another sign of how much Mexico's daily life has been affected by drug-related murders.

For the first 11 months of 2008, more than 5,000 people were killed in crime-related murders, twice as much as in 2007.

In the days of Kahlo and Rivera, life in Mexico was dominated by political struggles and great ideas; today it is plagued by murders and kidnappings.

This daily violence has made its way from the streets to the papers, and from the papers to the canvas.

Gallagher Fenwick contributed to this story.

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