Manuel Lepe, Mexican (1936 - 1984)

Manuel Lepe

Manuel Lepe Macedo (b. April 17, 1936 Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. - d. Sept 9, 1984 Guadalajara, Jalisco) Manuel Lepe was a Mexican artist who painted in a Naïve style, painting mostly themes based on the landscape and townscape of his native Puerto Vallarta.

Lepe was never formally trained as an artist, and attended only four years of primary school. His paintings came to symbolize the town during the years that it was becoming popular as a resort.

Lepe became internationally known, with exhibitions of his work in several US museums and galleries. He was named Mexico's national artist by president Luis Echevarría Álvarez in 1979.

He died in 1984 in Guadalajara from a cerebral aneurysm. His workshop in Puerto Vallarta is preserved as a gallery and museum. Some of his works are on display there as well as at the Peter Gray Museum of Art on the Coastal Campus of the University of Guadalajara, North of Puerto Vallarta.

April 17 is celebrated in Puerto Vallarta as Manuel Lepe day.

Manuel Lepe is the artist with greater meaning and recognition in Puerto Vallarta. In an intuitive way, he developed a personal naïf style that, in the decade of 70’s, initiated great interest in the scope of collectors and the artistic community. Mexican President Echeverría talked about him as the “national painter”. The work of Lepe has been the object of many exhibitions.

Perhaps the most important was the one celebrated in 1979 during the International Year of the Children, in the Museum of Science and Industries of Los Angeles, California. During its three months of duration, more than a million visitors came to the exhibit. Manuel Lepe is the unique Mexican painter registered in the Naif Directory of France. His style, fresh with a sense of innocence, has had an influence on other artists by creating a style that captures the artistic identity of Puerto Vallarta. Unicef, on three different occasions, has selected Lepe’s artwork to promote its worldwide programs of protecting children.

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