Francisco Benjamín López Toledo, one of Mexico’s most influential artists, has died. Born in Oaxaca on July 17, 1940, the painter, sculptor and activist was 79.
Toledo studied at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de Oaxaca and the Centro Superior de Artes Aplicadas de Bellas Artes. He incorporated his Zapotec heritage in his work, whether that was through prints, collages, ceramics or paintings. Toledo also included a lot of the animals that he grew up seeing. He particularly focused on animals – such as bats, frogs, lizards and cows – that others don’t always value.
Oaxaca was also at the center of his activism. He called for preserving nature and spoke out against the violation of the rights of Indigenous communities.
He used his art to make political statements. In 2014, he created 43 kites with the faces of the Ayotzinapa students that went missing.