At the age of fifteen, he started to study painting in the School of Fine Arts of the Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca. He was a founding member of the Rufino Tamayo Visual Arts Workshop in Oaxaca. He has taught in several cultural centers in the state of Oaxaca.
Abelardo López took third place in the thirteenth National Contest for Visual Art students in 1978. His work is in the collection of the Rayo Roldadillo Museum in Colombia. His landscapes have been shown in dozens of exhibitions in Mexico and the United States.
He says, “I like to paint the region where I grew up. I don’t want to present nature exactly the way it is, rather I try to interpret it. I like cloudless skies, natural forms without shadows, painting something not seen before, invented. I paint in the manner that pleases me the most, with my own seal and style. When I paint I let my emotions and my imagination lead me to depict nature, more than by resorting to rigid planning.”
San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca, 1957
The Mexican-born son of foreigners, Antonio Turok studied under the renowned photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo and later in several workshops in the United States. In the mid-1970s the anthropological work his sister Martha Turok was doing led him to settle in Chiapas where he could work with the ethnographer Gertrude Duby Blom.
It was in San Cristóbal de las Casas and the Chiapas highlands where he started to photograph the “beauty that surrounded him,” he tells us. However, as he matured, he took on a more profound conception of documentary photography and joined the photography agency Imagenlatina, which was headquartered in Mexico City and distributed material for Mexican and international communications media.
His profession took him to Central America in the 1980s to photograph armed conflicts there. He returned to Mexico and documented the conflicts of 1994 and 2006. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Creative Arts for photography in 1996. He has given numerous lectures at universities and workshops in the United States and as a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame. He lives and teaches in Oaxaca and continues to document the human condition.
Mexico City, 1955
“The contact with nature’s forms led me to search inside myself and awoke an interest in creating poetic images capable of stirring deep feelings. To reduce the subject to its essence and find the most expressive point of view from which the object can speak for itself.”
Cecilia has a degree in communications science from the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO) in Guadalajara, Jalisco. She did further specialized study in photography and art history. From 1997 to 2004 she was the director of the Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo in Oaxaca, Mexico.
She has showed her work in some twenty group exhibitions in galleries throughout Mexico and seventeen individual exhibitions, including Ver con el alma, escribir con la mirada (See with the Soul, Write with the Look) in June 2017 to commemorate her thirty-five years as a photographer. That show spawned two others: Flores y semillas in the Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo and Huajes in the Centro Cultural San Pablo in Oaxaca.
Her work has been acknowledged and has won grants and awards from the Culture and Arts Fund of the State of Oaxaca and that of Jalisco, as well as the National Culture and Arts Fund. She has been a judge in a number of photography contests, including the National Photography Biennial in Mexico. Her work is found in major collections such as those of the Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo in Oaxaca, Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Oaxaca, Fototeca Nacional de México, Museo de Arte de Zapopan, Fototeca de Jalisco, and La Fototeca in Bologna, Italy, and in private collections.
Guadalajara, Jalisco, 1957
Cecilio Sánchez was part of that group who joined Rufino Tamayo’s Visual Arts workshop in the early 1970s. Sánchez’s paintings are a tribute to ancestral memories in a time when the dialogue with the past is more important than ever. Trees grow out of skulls, a skeleton holds a lamp, the Virgin of Guadalupe, a puma, faces and ancient masks, fruit, fish, birds fly, bodies interweave with the earth, the earth body…. all sorts of things jump out at you. There are echoes of the ancient Tlacuilos, Zapotecs, and Mixtecs in Cecilio Sánchez’s incredible earth fusions.
These visual legends are not fixed. As stories, they flow like a river. Images float as if the air itself contained the memories of other places, other times. Here is an art as ephemeral as time that binds all these visualized emotions of communities, of families, of those that disappeared, and those that remain. It’s all in the surfaces and movement of lines, of color, and incredible closeness to life… sometimes alone, or in love, or the magic and mystery of time describes a night sky.
The amate paper’s textures evoke the landscape of Oaxaca itself. Amate is a type of bark paper that has been manufactured in Mexico since the precontact times. You can imagine an infinity of things in this material. A tree has a lot of life in it. The ancients are resting there, and animals we no longer can see, a skull, so any birds… Amate is the paper the codices or books of wisdom were made with.
Sánchez’s incredible paintings express a totality, without really making an effort. It is natural. Is it heaven or a peyote dream? The landscape is in the material, even before the artist adds something to it. The graphic sensibility is there too. In other works, in other worlds (for each painting is an entire world) you can see traces of real plants, of corn leaves, of sand from the land. These materials come from a place the ancestors, and people today, farm for sustenance. They are a reminder of the ecosystem we are part of.
He has maintained a constant dialogue with amate paper. He avoids trends and market vagaries. Like a comet he cycles into and out of the world of Oaxaca artists following two or three “polar stars” that guide him, almost always from afar and with a great deal of respect. He has found an incontrovertible coma and tail of possibilities in Mesoamerican iconography, more for its philosophical depth than for its aesthetic character.
San Jerónimo Yahuiche, Atzompa, Oaxaca, 1957
From a very early age he worked in the graphic studio Grafica Uno where he learned print making under the guidance of Giorgio Upiglio. A number of outstanding artists passed through this workshop and Crepaldi photographed them: De Chirico, Lam, Galle, Adami, Alechinsky, Paladino, Corzas, among others. For a time he alternated painting and photography, eventually moving to visual art.
He moved to Mexico City in 1993 and in 1998 moved to his home in the city of Oaxaca.
His expression is austere and his life is replete with spirituality. Crepaldi uses materials such as asphalt, oxides, and tars to compose his figurative, primitive images of great expressive strength, which he calls chronomats.
Milan, Italy, 1953
Eddie Martinez is part of a group that pioneered what has come to be known as the “Oaxaca Style.” It emerged in the mid-70s at the legendary Rufino Tamayo Workshop and was the beginning of Oaxaca contemporary art. The style’s roots lie in utilizing traditional Oaxaca cultural forms--myths, stories, legends, etc.--in a context of modern western art forms.
Martinez is one of those rare artists for whom one must sharpen one’s eyesight, tune-up the senses and be prepared to enjoy him. His uniqueness can be traced back to his Huave roots: the Huaves settled in the southernmost part of the state, beyond the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, where several cultures live together and interact with each other, clearly setting themselves apart from the well-known Zapotec folklore. This cultural plurality has in turn shown him the best way to nourish his palette, rich in colors and textures.
Using dream imagery that is mythic in nature as his point of departure, Martinez creates a universe where ambiguity is a constant, and what is perceived as solid can in a moment disintegrate to the touch. It’s a surreal world where nothing is as it seems. Here, the commonplace takes on an atmosphere of suspense; events have a different order from the rational one to which we are accustomed: past, present, and future blend into one another; and relationships take place on a different plane. Fragments, hints, and suggestions are the rule. The painting itself guides him, tells him where to go, what to do, what to correct, or to start over.
His silent, reserved personality enables him to observe reality, his realities—full time—and to absorb each tiny detail so that he can later demand of himself such high quality in his work that is only achieved with infinite patience, not to mention a measure of self-criticism.
San Francisco del Mar, Oaxaca, 1963
Emiliano López Xavier
Emiliano López Javier entered the Rufino Tamayo Visual Arts Workshop in Oaxaca at a very early age. He was part of the first generation of artists trained by many talented teachers under the incredible vision and leadership of Roberto Donis who had been chosen personally by Tamayo to be the director.
Soon after joining the workshop, in 1980, he had his first collective exhibitions such as the Fourteenth National Visual Arts Contest in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and a show at the gallery of the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA) Galería Tierra Adentro, Mexico City. Early one-person shows included the Galería Uno, Puerto Vallarta (1986), Mano Mágica, Oaxaca (1990 and 1993), and the Bucheon Gallery (1994), San Francisco, California.
As most artists from his generation his early works were watercolors on paper. He soon began to show his inclination for surreal compositions and the mixing of colors in the course of developing a personal palette that he continues to refine. His unique combinations invoke our appreciation of his work and provide a lasting recollection of the visual experience.
Etching and lithography have been techniques that he has studied and mastered over the past 40 years providing a different background for his happy elaborate characters and resolved from a refreshed perspective.
Discovering, learning, and mastering oil paint on canvas has been a true passion for many years now. Birds, circus, nature, and surreal beings are depicted in a figurative expressionistic style that has set him apart from the rest of his generation and led him down a path to conquering a new language where texture and color have fresh new meanings.
Valle Nacional, Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, 1960
Enrique Flores was born in a community in the Mixtec region of the state of Oaxaca, which has a deep-rooted culture that preserves its traditions and customs and is surrounded by a rural landscape that is always present in his art.
He was a member of the first generation at the Rufino Tamayo Art Workshop and later spent several years in the Free Workshop of Oaxaca Graphic Art. He has spent decades studying, practicing, and perfecting diverse printing techniques with master teachers such as Atanasio García Tapia and Octavio Bajonero, and with Juan Alcázar in the Taller Libre de Gráfica Oaxaqueña, he learned the principles and rules for making prints from the mid-1970s.
Both as a painter and as a graphic artist, he uses different media to capture the daily life of the communities, always using the image of a woman as a symbol of the importance of women in the development of cultures. Enrique is a master of all printmaking processes, and his works are always full of bright, intense colors. His images of plants and animals share space with dark-skinned faces, mostly women. He balances his compositions by adding a bicycle, a Mexican flag, a field of flowers, or human profiles, witnesses of his beloved reality in Oaxaca. In his work he acknowledges the influence of Hieronymus Bosch “El Bosco” and the bright colors and sunlight of the Impressionist painters.
In 1988 he acquired his first press and worked assiduously in his own studio as painter and printmaker. In 1995 he founded the Taller de Gráfica Enrique Flores in San Pablo Huitzo, where he teaches and produces his own prints and also works as a master printmaker with a numerous and growing group of artists.
He has participated in many collective and individual exhibitions in Mexico, Germany, United States, and Canada. Work by Enrique Flores is part of the collections of the Museum of Art, University of Arizona; Nelson Center for the Arts, Arizona State University; KLM Royal Dutch Airlines; Heineken Corporation; and, most recently, the Milenio Arte collection.
In 1994 he illustrated a childen’s book, Los pájaros de la cosecha (The Harvest Birds), bilingual edition in English and Spanish, Children’s Book Press, San Francisco.
San Pablo Huitzo, Oaxaca, 1963
Speaking only his mother tongue, Zapotec, and with no art experience except drawing, he entered the Rufino Tamayo Visual Arts Workshop in Oaxaca at the tender age of fourteen to become part of the first generation of artists. There he met Rufino Tamayo, one of Mexico’s finest artists, who selected one of Felipe de Jesus’ works to be published in a book.
Very early in his career he was picked for an exhibition in the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City. His works have been shown extensively in Mexico and abroad. Countries such as France, Canada, the United States, Japan, Spain, and Ecuador have known his work.
Felipe de Jesús tells us “I was born in a small town, in Ocotlán, and there the only theater, the only place we had where we could reflect, was the church. Since childhood I have always been very religious and I show that in my painting. I recently showed a number of paintings with religious and costumbrista themes that reflect my life experience. . . . My human figures tend to be elongated. I don’t plan it this way, but that is how they turn out. My hand, my heart are guiding me. It is a way of giving these stylized figures spiritual content.”
San Pedro Mártir Ocotlán, Oaxaca, 1959
He left his birth village to study in Oaxaca at the Rufino Tamayo Visual Arts Workshop. His subject matter and, above all, his technique would have been very different if he had not left Oaxaca in 1978 to move to Chicago.
The years he spent in Chicago enabled him to relate more to European, Latin American and American art. After fifteen years away from Mexico he returned to Oaxaca. The security of experience can be observed in his art.
He has shown his work in Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, and several cities in the United States and Mexico. He was awarded the Logan Art Institute prize in the Chicago and Vicinity Show of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1980. His work is in collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Latin-American art in Washington, D.C.; Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Illinois; and the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Illinois.
Filemón says, “I always dreamed of learning to paint. I was happy then. . . . When I start a painting I consider the canvas is green, like fruit, and it ripens as I paint . . . It is finished when I feel it is mature and free to travel. It is like a child who will have to become self- sufficient and be able to speak for itself.”
San José Sosola, Oaxaca, 1958
He studied to be an art teacher at the Fine Arts School (2000–2002) and for a degree in architecture at the 5 de Mayo School of Architecture (2005–2010), both part of the Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca. His professional activities include participating in various important restorations such as that of the Ex-Convent of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Oaxaca, in the area of polychromed ceramics.
His pictorial work has been in several collective exhibitions. In 2017 he was commissioned to paint three mid-size oils on appropriate themes for the collection of the ABC Medical Center in its Annie Cass Critical Care and Surgical Tower, on the ABC’s Observatorio campus in Mexico City. In 2018 he presented his first one-man show at the Casa Lamm in Mexico City.
Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, 1980
Jarol studied visual arts at the Fine Arts School of the Benito Juarez Autonoumous University of Oaxaca and in several workshops such as the Rufino Tamayo Visual Arts Workshop.
He has participated in collective exhibitions in his native state and in several cities in Mexico. His paintings are representative of the group of young Oaxaca landscape artists who are becoming well known through the quality and added value springing from their paintbrushes.
“Each work is like an open window looking on the environment and architecture at the core of the alteration; the human being is the one who intervenes in ecosystems as just one component of the constant evolution and transformation of the landscape.”
San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca, 1989
After more than twenty years of painting and print making, Josefa decided to study for a degree in visual arts at the Autonomous University of Chilpancingo in her native state of Guerrero. However, she has developed her career in Oaxaca.
She is restless and full of curiosity and energy that drives her to plumb the numerous, varied topics that interest her. She gets to know them first and then her innate way of questioning them enables her to extract every crumb of information that she can use to transfer her vision to paper or canvas, making a genuine effort to translate her understanding of the object into meanings that the viewer can capture and assimilate.
El Durazno San Vicente, Guerrero, 1965
Free-lance photographer based in Oaxaca since 1986. Her work has been published in newspapers, magazines, numerous books and art catalogues in Mexico and abroad. She has taught photography in universities, high schools, workshops for children and blind photographers, and at Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and at the National Geographic PhotoCamp.
She produced international workshops in Oaxaca with American photographer Mary Ellen Mark for fifteen years.
She has received awards and distinctions, including the Biennale of Photojournalism-Mexico, Latin American Photography Biennial-Denmark, Stipend from the Hasselblad Foundation- Switzerland, National Geographic All Roads Photographers-USA; Mexico-Indonesia Cultural Exchange; Planet Magazine award-EUA; National System of Art Creators of the National Fund for Culture and the Arts-Mexico; Héctor and María García Foundation award- Mexico; Nikon International jury-Japan.
Her work is in collections of The Hasselblad Center; Sonoma Museum of Art; Throckmorton Fine Art NY; The Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago; The Wittliff Collection; Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Oaxaca; among others.
Puebla de los Ángeles, Puebla, 1958
María Rosa Astorga
Oaxaca has been her home since 1984. She studied painting with well-known artists. For over twenty years she has been employing different techniques such as encaustic, oils, and mixed media. She prefers large-scale and midsize formats, which she works with earths from the region and oil paint.
Her work has been shown in more than thirty exhibitions in Mexico, Chile, the United States, Europe, and Asia. Some of her works are in important collections worldwide.
She is represented by galleries in Mexico and the United States. She has published the following books of poetry: Entre árboles (Del Hado al Hado, 1998) and Cien variaciones (Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, 2004). She has collaborated with other artists in performances and documentaries.
Santiago, Chile, 1963
Raúl went to Europe in 1961 and lived in Paris, Rome, London, Brussels, and Ibiza; in 1971 he returned to Mexico. He lived in Loa Angeles, California in 1974. In 1966–67 he spent ten months in Mexico City where he had three major one-man exhibitions, one of them in the Palace of Fine Arts.
His work is in the collections of numerous museums, including the Casa de las Américas, Havana, Cuba; Museo Amparo, Puebla; Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City; Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City; Musée Modern Museum, Brussels, Belgium; Museo Chileno Salvador Allende, Santiago, Chile; Museo Universitario de las Artes, Mexico City; and Palacio Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mexico City.
Mexico City, 1948
His work is clearly influenced by oriental art in which he has found spiritual balance to achieve his artistic creation. Similarly, he is deeply inspired by the traditions and the natural world of his native land. He uses figurative elements along with an abstract style, tending toward minimalism. This combination creates a tranquil, harmonic environment, creating a feeling of peace.
He sees himself as an emotional painter and says his daily life is so linked to his art that he cannot say whether the events of his life affect his painting or it is painting that affects his personal life.
Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, 1967
Vicki Ragan has exhibited her photographic work in outstanding venues worldwide, including the Modern Art Museum, Moscow; Museum of Modern Photography, Tokyo; Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris; Espace Van Gogh—Rencontres, Arles, France; WestLicht—Schauplatz für Fotografie, Vienna, Austria; Photokina, Cologne, Germany; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona; Brooklyn Museum of Fine Art, New York; FotoFest, the Houston Center for Photography, Houston, Texas; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; and Southeastern Museum of Photography; Daytona Beach, Florida.
Her work is in permanent collections at the George Eastman Museum, the Center for Creative Photography, the High Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Houston Museum of Fine Art, and the Polaroid Corp International Art Collection. Moreover, her work has appeared on the covers of the Smithsonian magazine and The British Journal of Photography. Articles about Vicki and her work have appeared in The New York Times, Houston Center for Photography’s Spot magazine, and Woodstock Center for Photography’s Photography Quarterly.
She has received numerous commissions for public art and has permanent installations in Jackson-Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport, the Adamsville Community Center, and the historic Block Candy Building in Atlanta, and in the Island Grove Community Center in Greeley, Colorado.
She has published three books: Oaxaca Wood Carving: the Magic in the Trees (Chronicle Books, 1993), The Edible Alphabet Book (Bullfinch Press, 1996), and Oaxacan Ceramics (Chronicle, 2000).
Greely, Colorado, United States of America, 1951
Engaging in a dialogue with Virgilio Santaella’s works involves not only the eyes but also the memory of taste, smell, touch, hearing, emotion, breathing. Viewers always see themselves within something recently lived and are taken to the simple memory of a caress, a smile, a conversation, a moment of silence. Virgilio paints all of this with beautiful simplification, taking the essence of each situation. He expresses what he observes, what he perceives, what he feels.
The underlying recourse of Santaella’s abstract art is evocation. Some artists exercise their imagination in the creative instant. Virgilio evokes, he refers to the night, the day, the moment of interaction with another person, to an instant in time. One must live what one paints.
San Pablo Huitzo, Oaxaca, 1964