José Hernández Delgadillo, Figuras

José Hernández Delgadillo, Figuras

  • Artist: José Hernández Delgadillo (b. 1927)

  • Title: Figuras,

  • Medium: Oil on canvas.

  • Dimensions: H: 23in x W: 30 1/2in

  • Signed and dated lower right & on verso on stretcher

José Hernández Delgadillo (1927 – December 26, 2000) was a Mexican painter and muralist best known for carrying on the traditions of Mexican muralism in the latter 20th century. He created over 160 murals in Mexico and the United States, with most of his work, especially after 1970, containing strong political messages. Many of these messages have been unpopular in Mexico, which has made the artist somewhat obscure and some of his murals have been destroyed. Hernández Delgadillo’s main recognition is membership in the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana honor society, but his home state has made effort to rescue and promote his life and work.

Hernández Delgadillo was born in Tepeapulco in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, the son of a poor rural farm worker. He grew up working on farms, road construction, in a greenhouse and making furniture.

In 1945, he traveled to Mexico City and studied painting and architectural drawing at the workshop of Antonio Navarrete Tejero. To survive during this time, he made money by creating portraits.

After the first individual exhibition of his work, he decided to pursue advanced training, attending the Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado "La Esmeralda" from 1955 to 1960. According to his autobiography, at this time he met Pablo O'Higgins which inspired him to continue the ideals of Mexican muralism.

In addition to his art career, he was also very politically active. He believed that popular organization in neighborhoods, unions and schools was necessary to exert non-violent pressure against the government. From 1980 to 1983 he wrote a weekly column for the Excélsior newspaper, which allowed him to write to present an alternate point of view and appear more neutral. In 1985, he stood for the Partido Mexicano de Trabajadores in the 38th electoral district, covering the Magdalena Contreras area and part of Alvaro Obregon. He was a pre candidate for president with the PRD in 1987, but the party chose Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. The artist then worked for the Cárdenas campaign creating murals.

He worked in oil, acrylics, mixed media, print and poster making and some sculptures in bronze. His style was mostly expressionistic, often denouncing acts of violence. Some murals, such as those done at university campuses rely on simple, basic colors but others more nuanced used of color, such as shades of reds and ochre are used to express anger at social injustices. Justino Fernandez wrote “In the works of Hernández Delgadillo, we find a definite sense of the monumental and certain underlying classicism combined with personal expressionism. This may seem contradictory, but is not, thanks to the synthesis to which he brings both tendencies.” “His giants – images of men and women, entire or fragmented nudes with extraordinarily expressive heads large or small, their features barely insinuated, their eyes tiny – betray his humanist leanings.” Similar to the artists of the Mexican muralism movement, he used indigenous cultural expression to highlight the country’s heritage, its abilities as well as how it has been exploited. Many of his figures have a primeval quality, as if they sprang from the earth.

Hernández Delgadillo died in 2000, leaving behind his wife, Beatriz Zamora and three children, Beatriz, Myriam and Francisco.

Bio courtesy of Wikipedia

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