. Archives of paintings
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Up ] Antonio C. Ixtamer ] Domingo Garcia Criado ] Diego Isaias Hernandez Mendez ] Emilio Gonzalez Morales ] Jose Antonio Gonzalez ] Juan Fermin Gonzalez Morales ] Lorenzo Gonzalez Chavajay ] Maria Elena Curruchiche ] Maria Teodora Mendez ] Mariano Gonzalez Chavajay ] Matias Gonzalez Chavajay ] Mario Gonzalez Chavajay ] Miguel Angel Sunu ] Paula Nicho Cumes ] Pedro Rafael Gonzalez Chavajay ] Samuel Cumes Pop ] Rafael Gonzalez y Gonzalez ] Juan Sisay ] Vicenta Puzul ]
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  Artist Paula Nicho Cumes of San Juan Comalapa is undoubtedly the most important woman indigenous artist of Guatemala. Her paintings are filled with images from her life and her dreams. Her themes express what it means to be a woman and a Maya Indian.
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  Vicenta Puzul de Gonzalez, the wife of Mariano Gonzalez Chavajay was the first Tz'utuhil woman oil painter. Her style of painting is virtually indistinguishable from that of her famous husband, except that her faces may be a bit more refined.
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  When Maria Teodora Mendez de Gonzalez the wife of Matias Gonzalez Chavajay began to paint she worked assisting her husband on production work for the tourists. It was only after many years of doing this that she started painting on her own and signing her work. Maria Teodora, sister-in-law of Vicenta Puzul, was the second Tz'utuhil woman to become an artist. Both Vicenta and Maria Teodora live in San Pedro la Laguna.
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  The two granddaughters of Andres Curruchich, San Juan Comalapa's first oil painter, were the first women to take up painting in a professions that up to that time was entirely men. Maria Elena Currchiche was encouraged by her father, Vicente Curruchich also a renowed artist, to start painting. (Yes, the family relatively recently changed the spelling of their last name.)
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PaintingRafael Gonzalez y Gonzalez is called the father of Tz'utuhil Maya painting. He lived in San Pedro when he did his first painting but then he moved to the coastal side of the volcano to Chicacao where he continued painting. Two of his sons, three of his grandsons and three nephews became painters. His youngest son Rafael Angel Gonzalez still lives and paints in Chicacao.
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Rafael Gonzalez y Gonzalez had three sons. Two of them moved back to San Pedro la Laguna and the other two became painters. Jose Antonio Gonzalez Escobar adopted a style similar to that of his father with a special interest in the colonial church structures which were the centers of many of the Mayan towns and still are the most interesting architecture in most towns.
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Pedro Rafael Gonzalez Chavajay began painting in oils regularly in 1976. He is Rafael Gonzalez's oldest grandchild and along with Mariano Gonzalez, San Pedro's longest resident oil painter. Pedro Rafael's paintings are of the highest quality of craftmanship of any of the Tz'utuhil painters. 
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Mario Gonzalez Chavajay is the younger brother of Pedro Rafael Gonzalez Chavajay. Although his brother was a skilled artist, Mario learned more or less on his own. He has been painting for twenty years, and his work is now gaining him considerable attention.
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PaintingLorenzo Gonzalez Chavajay took up painting when he retired and continued until he died a period of about five years. Although the art of the Tz'utuhil painters is often labelled "primitivistic," Lorenzo is San Pedro's only truly naive painter, painting in a style entirely of his own devising.
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Juan Fermin Gonzalez Morales is the oldest of three brothers who are painters. During the time of violence he was forcibly induced into the military. Emotionally he still suffers from the experience, but he began painting Tz'utuhil themes from above as he saw things from the helicopters he was in. This style, called "vista del pajaro" has become ubiquitous with all the lesser artists painting dozens for the galleries. His paintings and those of Abraham Batzim who made the "vista de pajaro" style famous are the only artists who have done paintings in this style of any importance.
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Juan Fermin's younger brother Emilio Gonzalez Morales has been painting since the early 1980's. He has a gallery where he sells the paintings of the three brothers.
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PaintingMariano Gonzalez Chavajay is Pedro Rafael's Gonzalez's exact contemporary starting to paint in oils only shortly after Pedro Rafael. Mariano is the only person who might challenge Pedro Rafael to the title of being the best artist from San Pedro.
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Vicenta Puzul de Gonzalez, the wife of Mariano Gonzalez Chavajay is the first Tz'utuhil woman painter. Her style is exactly like that of her husband so much so that more than one artist has told me that he does the paintings for her to sign. I have spent enough time watching her paint to know that the painting is her own and that she in fact has worked on many backgrounds of her husband's larger paintings.
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PaintingMatias Gonzalez Chavajay is Mariano's younger brother, and it was from Mariano that he learned to paint. Matias's work is characterized by an attention to pattern and detail combined with a child-like naivety in depicting certain aspects of his subjects.
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Samuel Cumes Pop started painting in oil like the other Tz'utuhil artists, but soon realized that with pastels he could express himself better. His paintings are surreal and often political. Samuel was traumatized by threats from the death squad during the time of violence during the first half of the 1980s, and this comes out in his artwork.
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cox15_s.gif (11596 bytes)Jose Maria Gonzalez Cox, known artistically as Chema Cox, abandoned the "primitivistic" style of San Pedro in favor of the more European style of painting practiced in Antigua Guatemala. He changed from oil painting to watercolors giving his paintings a softer look. He has become very proficient in painting watercolors, and is probably the best Mayan watercolorist.
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One of the younger gereration of painters Miguel Angel Sunu Cortez studied with Pedro Rafael Gonzalez Chavajay whose influence is clear, none the less Miguel has his own colors and manner of painting people. Most importantly Pedro Rafael instilled in Miguel a strong desire to create paintings of quality. Although partly due to inexperience Miguel is almost certainly the only Tz'utuhil artist who paints more slowly than Pedro Rafael.
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PaintingRafael Enrique Gonzalez Mendez is the third grandson of old Rafael Gonzalez to become a painter. Like Pedro Rafael Gonzalez he was named for his grandfather.
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PaintingWhen Antonio Chavajay Yojcom began painting he produced a number of quite original paintings. He soon succumbed to the demand of the galleries in Santiago Atitlan for tourist paintings, and now produces many small brightly colored paintings. To the right is one of his early paintings, Mercado, Chichicastenango.
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Diego Isaias Hernandez Mendez always was an artist. The walls of his room as a child were always covered with drawings done in pencil, pen, or colored pencils (whatever he could get his hands on). Isaias, a jovial person, has always been attracted to subjects he could laugh at, so he began painting subjects such as dogs causing people to fall. He expanded this type of theme to include natural disasters. When he won   first prize in a competition for a painting about  Hurricane Mitch, he acquired the nickname of the accident painter.
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PaintingThe paintings of Victor Vasquez Temo captivate with their exhuberance and originality. In spite of his success as an artist Victor still considers himself mainly a campesino.
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PaintingAntonio C. Ixtamer was San Juan's second oil painter. He mostly certainly is Pedro Rafael Gonzalez's best student. Antonio Ixtamer is a superb colorist. Many of his best paintings were a collaboration between him and the San Pedro woodcarver Achentit.
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PaintingAntonio Coche Mendoza, San Juan's first painter, was one of Mariano Gonzalez' first students. His work is the archtype for the painting style/subject matter for the artists of San Pedro la Laguna and San Juan la Laguna. Antonio Coche has taught many members of his family how to paint, and recently they have been taking the top postitions in the biennial art competition put on by the cultural foundation established by Guatemala's Paiz department store. This competition is the most important in Guatemala and the three top paintings in each division become part of the  permanent collection in the Museo Paiz.
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PaintingJulian Coche Mendoza was Antonio Coche Mendoza's first student. Julian's eye for color and composition places him among the best.
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. Peregrinacion EsquipulasJuan Sisay was Santiago Atitlan's  first and most famous painter. Being the first coupled with his ability soon gained him national and  international recognition. His fame did not protect him and like many people from his town during the period of violence, he was murdered by unknown assasins in 1989.

We are willing to post images of Juan Sisay's paintings. Anyone who has a Juan Sisay painting they would like to share on the web should send us a photograph along with the title date and dimensions and any other information that might be pertinent.

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. jfs01_s.gif (15778 bytes)Juan Sisay has three sons who have become artists. They all share the same first name with their father. They are Juan Manuel, who uses the name Manuel Sisay, Juan Diego who uses the name Diego Sisay, and Juan Francisco who uses the name Juan Sisay, but whom we will always refer to as Juan Francisco Sisay to differentiate from his father. They specialize in large format, almost photographic  portraits of the people of Santiago Atitlán.
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Nicolas began painting as a teenager. His first paintings were very naive. He had one of the first art galleries in Santiago Atitlan, which not only helped him, but many artists in San Pedro and San Juan. His works are featured in the permanent collection of the Heard Museum in Phoenix.
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. PaintingLike many Tz'utuhil artists, Pedro Miguel Reanda began when he was a teenager. His work is more naive than most of the artists from Santiago but it sometimes captures something essentially uniquely Mayan.
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One of Santiago's finest painters, Miguel Chavez worked as an appretice to Juan Sisay for over fifteen years.
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paintingThe youngest of Nicolas Reanda Quiejú's brothers began painting in around 1988. His work developed quickly, his depictions of people faces and hands becoming more and more realistic. Following the lead of the Sisay brothers he began focussing mainly on large format portraits.
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. Up ] Antonio C. Ixtamer ] Domingo Garcia Criado ] Diego Isaias Hernandez Mendez ] Emilio Gonzalez Morales ] Jose Antonio Gonzalez ] Juan Fermin Gonzalez Morales ] Lorenzo Gonzalez Chavajay ] Maria Elena Curruchiche ] Maria Teodora Mendez ] Mariano Gonzalez Chavajay ] Matias Gonzalez Chavajay ] Mario Gonzalez Chavajay ] Miguel Angel Sunu ] Paula Nicho Cumes ] Pedro Rafael Gonzalez Chavajay ] Samuel Cumes Pop ] Rafael Gonzalez y Gonzalez ] Juan Sisay ] Vicenta Puzul ]

 


To contact us write: Arte Maya Tz'utuhil, P.O. Box 40391, San Francisco, CA 94140.  Telephone: (415) 282-7654. I will be away from Thursday August 15 until Saturday August 23. Email me at

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