For years now, Hilda Palafox, known as Poni for many of them, has been reshaping and rethinking her characters. She has, of course, matured into a wonderful painter of colors and texture, becoming one of the leading voices in a powerful Mexico City scene. But what has become even more prevalent is how her characters have become more bold in their personalities, more contemplative, more aware of the world around them. That her new show in Mexico City is called The Effort to Find Oneself, seems both apt for the times and also the perfect example of where Palafox is searching. 

What she is able to accomplish with her faces that are unchanging is to actually show just how much they are feeling changed. Their actions show how much of the world around them is forcing them to be more introspective. As the gallery notes, “identity is revealed as a trajectory, a constant search that would appear to be seeking a concrete foundation or destiny, and that barely manages to describe an endless spiral that never quite reaches the center. That search is comparable to a displacement across the surface on which knowable objects and subjects are found. On this journey we have some certainty of what we do know, but we are unaware of how much we do not know. Moving among the things that inhabit the world is a way of becoming aware of this limitation.”

In our Winter 2022 Quarterly, Palafox told us, “Almost all of my work comes from current situations or feelings, readings or conversations,” and this particular show seems to show how much of her own identity is coming through in the works. She is at peace with trying to understand and visualize oneself in a complicated time, an uncertain moment, and the tension that lies within. —Evan Pricco