Jose Maria de Servin - Chico Mexicano Jugueton

Jose Maria de Servin - Chico Mexicano Jugueton

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This lovely work measures 24 x 18" (60 x 45cm), was done in 1976, and is mixed media on burlap. 

 

The sweetness that characterizes the work of Mexican painter Jose Maria de Servin (1917-83) is a melancholy and placid one. While he worked in the most modern of styles, he adapted it to an anecdotal folk-art approach distinctly his own. When he was an infant, de Servin's family moved with him to Guadalajara. A city of history and culture, Guadalajara had a thriving artistic community with strong connections to Europe. His brothers Antonio and Miguel became artists as well, and in later years they worked collaboratively.

 

As a teenager, de Servin studied at one of Mexico's Schools of Open-Air Painting, free art-teaching institutions sponsored by the government. Later de Servin became a pupil of the painter Chucho Reyes, known for his improvisational watercolor variations on traditional Mexican themes.

 

This interest in imagery particular to Mexico would be of great significance to de Servin. De Servin also studied under the more traditional painter Jose Vizcarra. In the early 1930s de Servin joined the Pintores Jovenes de Jalisco, or Young Painters of Jalisco. An influence of critical importance to de Servin was Pablo Picasso. One of the originators of Cubism, the Spanish painter soon departed from its quasi-scientific and optical basis to create lively and humorous geometrical abstractions. It was this Cubism, personal and decorative, that de Servin adopted.

 

His earliest Cubist works mimic Picasso, while during the second stage of his career, his works become smooth and polished, with an emphasis on gentle surface textures. After these cautious years, however, a rough boldness enters along with dominating colors of earth and sand. Modernists like de Servin were interested in exploring what they considered primitive artmaking styles. The adoption of a native manner and native themes is in keeping with Modernist tenets, as is the use of nontraditional materials. De Servin's portraits of peasants, large-eyed and simply rendered, recall children's drawings. The rough burlap ground contrasts with the playful imagery and delicate range of color. The figures, all children or child-like adults, are all curves and simple shapes arranged harmoniously.

 

De Servin's cubism is free from grotesquerie as it celebrates the simplicity of its subjects. De Servin worked with the social-realist Jose Orozco on several large mural commissions in Guadalajara, including one at the Legislative Palace. While their styles were dissimilar, both made use of Mexican imagery to glorify the common people. A sought-after muralist in his own right, de Servin brought the rich colors and endearing characters of his panels to his larger-scale work. For 15 years, de Servin taught summer art classes at the University of Arizona. His career was marked by many one-man shows, both in North America and Europe.

 

In recent years, his striking style has attracted increased notice from critics and the public. Born in La Piedad, Michoacan in 1917. When he was only 3 months old and having three older sisters who were nuns, his family escaped the cristero war and found refuge in Guadalajara, Jalisco. A student of Chucho Reyes at his improvised art school, he became a member of the group "Pintores Jovenes de Jalisco". Servin worked with Jose Clemente Orozco making several murals in and around Guadalajara. His first grand exhibition was held in 1940 in Guadalajara, and he held many other shows after that in Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, the US and Europe. He is mentioned in a Time article from Oct 2 1944 written about the art of Jesus Reyes Ferreira. A professor at the University of Arizona for 15 years, he also made several murals in Phoenix, Tijuana and Monterrey.