The Right Livelihood Foundation mourns the great artist Francisco Toledo
Francisco Toledo passed away yesterday at the age of 79. He was one of the most important painters, potters and engravers in Mexico. Toledo received the Right Livelihood Award in 2005 “for devoting himself and his art to the protection and enhancement of the heritage, environment and community life of his native Oaxaca.”
Toledo loudly supported agrarian reform, the claims of students and indigenous people. Because of his activism, he suffered attacks and death threats several times during his life. He also worked to resist McDonald’s expansion in Mexico and the spread of genetically modified corn.
As he never liked celebrations, it was his daughter Natalia, the oldest of his five children, who went to Stockholm to receive the award on his behalf.
“While some people only live their lives, others are saving the world. In many places, there are very conscious people watching over all of us. One of them is my dad”, Natalia Toledo told the Foundation a few years ago.
Francisco Toledo was an active promoter, sponsor and disseminator of the cultural values. He founded several important artistic and cultural institutions in Oaxaca, involving local actors. In 2014, after the forced disappearance of students in Ayotzinapa, Toledo gave renewed visibility to the tragic case. He put up 43 kites with the faces of each one of the missing students and flew them with children from primary school: “We are looking for them from the sky”, he said then.
When he turned 75, Toledo told the Right Livelihood Foundation that he would leave Oaxaca on his birthday to avoid the celebrations. If it were up to him, he wouldn’t even attend his own funeral. To look at his path and follow his steps in the preservation of local richness and diversity is the best way to honour his life.
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