OROZCO José Clemente
( 1883-1949) Born in Zapatlan, Mexico. Along with Diego Rivera, Orozco can be considered one of the initiators of the Mexican painting of today. Less influenced than Rivera by European painting, probably closer to Aztec tradition, Orozco appraised perfectly the requirements made by the immensity of the American continent. He did not accept the limits suggested to European artists by the will inherited from the ancient Greeks to reduce plastic arts to human scale. As he worked out cartoons for his frescoes, Orozco no doubt thought more of skyscrapers than of houses and monuments in Mexico, although the Maya or Aztec pyramids could have justified his choice. His resolution to put his art at the service of his political opinions was certainly more decisive. Every work was to illustrate a grievance of contemporary man. This tendency led him to give to his work the character of an appeal, a message, and therefore to arrive eventually at a poster style. In this field Orozco's virtuosity is incomparable. His art not only solicits, grips the attention of the passer-by, but also attempts to make him react, and succeeds in doing so. Aesthetically, this will of the painter has not failed to create serious misunderstandings. It is, nevertheless, true that the work of Orozco has enabled contemporary painters, Mexican in particular, to escape from affectation, free themselves of their repressions and broaden their vision. In some respects Orozco was a renovator. He showed that modern painting could be directed toward a field deliberately neglected by the painters of the late nineteenth century, who had forgotten the example and lesson of Delacroix. In spite of the definitely local, deeply Mexican character of his painting, Orozco has been recognized by many inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere as one of the first painters to have expressed the spirit of a new civilization. It is, moreover, indisputable that not only the dimensions of his work but even the very light in his painting correspond to those of the cities of the New World. No wonder, therefore, that European artists, borne upon frequently contrary currents, find it to difficult to accept the genius of Orozco. None the less, this pointer offers them one of the most precious means for escaping the impasse to which a number of them have come. The influence of Orozco is at present undergoing an eclipse, for today his art appears to be too faithful to a certain period in the history of his country. But it is likely that justice will be done in the future to the powerful and incontestable personality of this artist.
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