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Landscape’s memory: The art of Jose Maria Velasco

Landscape’s memory: The art of Jose Maria Velasco

Article by Octavio Alonso Maya Castro

When I was young, I saw an illustration on the cover of the Mexico geography book – the painting of a landscape dominated by a train that was moving trough a countryside, it was charming and neat.

The art of Jose Maria Velasco

Not so long ago I visited MUNAL (The National Museum of Art) to see the recently opened Jose Maria Velasco gallery, which now houses great pieces of Mexican art produced between 1830 and 1920.

Jose Maria VelascoJosé María Tranquilino Francisco de Jesús Velasco Gómez Obregón (1840-1912), Landscape painter.

His topic and fascination was the Mexican territory and the transformation of it due to human activity.

He studied arts in the fine arts college of San Carlos at Mexico City were the teacher Eugenio Landesio (1810-1879) guided him trough the road of realism and landscape. Later on, he became a teacher of perspective in the same college when he was just 18.

Jose Maria perfected his technical abilities at an early stage of his life and dedicated his art career to painting the domestication of the valleys of Mexico. The development of his talent was a process done on the on field, were he would take his easel, canvases, paintings and brushes on the top of cliffs and hills to paint the landscape.

In his time, the cities were small and undeveloped land was wast. The dreams of a better future and progress didn’t affected the beauty of the land.

In his pieces we can observe a pristine lake of Texcoco that was reduced in size during the 20th century. The skylines of cities dominated by domes and towers of churches and cathedrals, heritage of the viceroyalty period, the valley and the mountain as a whole are elements that define the aura of his creations about the human activity and the land back then.

Landscape's memory: The art of Jose Maria Velasco

Landscape's memory: The art of Jose Maria Velasco

Landscape's memory: The art of Jose Maria Velasco

Landscape's memory: The art of Jose Maria Velasco

Landscape's memory: The art of Jose Maria Velasco

Even in Jose Maria’s purest landscape, there are traces of human activity like a single explorer with his donkey or a lone dirt road in the mountain.

As always, Jose painted his masterpieces with the mastery and the ability to recreate the true spirit and beauty of Mexican landscapes of his time.

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