Take a good look at these paintings; they are not available for public view. The Mexican government keeps them hidden in the old disused Lecumberri prison.

«Violencias fraternas», «El general», «El uno no camina sin el otro», «Caida y descendimiento» : represent a peak in Vlady's art production. It is in them that Mexico is the most present, in the double movement of the fall of Icarus/Cuauhtemoc and the rise of the guerrillera who is nude except for the balaclava, made famous by the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, covering her head.

The beginning of the project had gone well enough. In 1993, Vlady was invited to the Ministry of the Interior, a place bound to raise the hackles of an artist-dissident. Surprise: minister Patrocinio González Garrido asked him to create a series of paintings on the theme of permanent revolution. Of course, Mexico has been ruled for the past 75 years by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). In the mind of minister González Garrido, the permanent revolution could only be that of the PRI.

On October 13, 1994, the Mexican government unveiled four monumental paintings for display at the Ministry of the Interior. The political authorities orchestrated great pomp and ceremony and the television cameras were rolling. The next day, in a dramatic turn of events, the paintings disappeared. Rumours circulated that the paintings had been destroyed, or that one of them had been stolen by a highly placed government dignitary. The press caught wind, and Mexico's artistic community rallied to Vlady's cause.

The outcome was pure Mexico: the paintings resurfaced in an old prison that had been transformed into warehouses for the national archives -- the Lecumberri prison, so full of sinister memories that passersby genuflect and hurry to put it behind them. The paintings were kept in an auditorium. They can be seen, but one must find a bureaucrat who knows where they are, ask for a map of the site so that one doesn't get lost, send an orderly to get a key, and find another bureaucrat with access to the circuit board that turns on the lights in the hall.

October 1997 brought a dramatic reversal: a permit was granted for one of the four paintings. It was shown publicly in the "Ojos para soñar" exhibition organized by the Morelos Institute of Culture in Cuernavaca. Does this mean the Lecumberri curse was lifted? Not completely. Pressure must continue on the Mexican government to take the paintings out of the National Archives and hang them permanently in a museum open to the general public, such as the Mexico Museum of Fine Arts. These paintings belong to the Mexican people, not to the government, which is only the trustee of Mexico's artistic heritage.