Héctor Nájera, Mexican (1931 -2004)

Héctor Nájera, painter, poet, engraver and sculptor was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico (1931). He studied drawing, painting and sculpture with the master Antonio Decanini in Monterrey, N.L. (1946-1948). He obtained a scholarship to study sculpture at the "Tecnologico de Monterrey Institute" with the master Adolfo Labner (1949). He taught literature at the University of Nuevo Leon. And at the age of 20, he emigrated to de U.S., where he set up his studio in Los Angeles, California. During that period (1950-1964), he exhibited his paintings at many galleries across the U.S. and Europe. He lived and worked in New York, London, and Paris for short periods of time. Bernard Lewin from Los Angeles, California and George Gastini from Beverly Hills, California, both art promoters launched his art to an international level. More than 14 years later, Nájera returned to Mexico and settle down in Guadalajara where he currently resides.

In Mexico, he made a deep reflection into the possibility of renewing his style of painting, created a complete repertoire of shapes, lines, colors and textures that reached a special importance and manifested Najera's personal style.

“This Fascinating artist seems to have traveled through circles of modern art without having been influenced thereby in the least. Calmly, serenely, with delicate precision --- one might even say indolently --- he accepts the discipline of traditional technique. And undoubtedly it is impossible to discern in his works other indications of the modern spirit than, lightly, that taste for fantasy which rules the choice of details in his fabulous compositions. Thus he tempers the discipline of his craftsmanship by the singular freedom of his subject matter. He came to Paris. In very few years Nájera acquired a prestigious reputation internationally as a portrait painter. Simultaneously, he attracted the attention of the Paris and New York public, an artist with a poet's heart, animating dreamy figures of child and Madonna in a semi-primitive stile. His success was immediate. With all his talent, Nájera would be merely a clever virtuoso, like many we have seen among the modern primitives, if he did not infuse into his works the breath of tenderness and fragile humor -- and one does not know what mystery of the soul -- which give his paintings naive grace and quality. It is by these characteristics that he was able to inspire M. Paul Guth to write a series of brilliant prose-poems, dedicated to his paintings, and published in 1961 together with a study of the artist".

Through the passage of his 50 years of artistic work, Hector Najera´s master works can be found at the principal private and public collections in more than 100 countries around the world, at more than 50 museums in 30 countries, as well as in 55 countries represented at the Organization of the United Nations in the City of New York. We can also find his works at 24 Foreing Embassies in the City of Mexico, as well as at 100 universities in 23 countries. The Government of Mexico has 40 of his paintings (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores) and other 40 large format paintings belonging to the National Institute of Fine Arts of Mexico (INBA). 25 paintings in Corporations and Associations from several foreign countries such as the UNESCO in Paris, France and the European Community in Brussels, Belgiu.

Hector Nájera's art is a unique mixture of spirit, imagination, and universal symbols that for mysterious reasons, put me in a good mood. The first time I saw his work, I asked myself: what kind of man could create such creatures with calm expressions, adorned with martian-like projections and his fantastic animals which seem to escape from one of Borge's story tales. I thought that it had to be a sort of Latin American Chagall, with that same mischievous vision of the world and art. A second glance made me remember the impeccable beauty of some African sculptures or of Modigliani's paintings, but with a touch of Van Gogh's madness. It would not have seemed strange if the artist had a missing ear. Nevertheless, I soon realized that it was useless to look for similarities because Nájera is an absolutely unique artist who has journeyed through primitive style art as well as modern art, taking from here and there, but without being imbued by perceptible influences.

His symbols have the ease and looseness both at the service of an unsubduable fantasy. I concluded that Nájera must be a playful genius and quite disturbed. In the presence of his sensitivity, one should succumb without asking for explanations. It was surprising to see when I met him, that he was a person of normal appearances with both ears intact, a fatherly figure with a family, and a citizen like any other child from the neighborhood. This metamorphosis takes place by itself at his workshop, with brushes clutched in his hand and with a variety of materials, creating freely without restraint. And then, this good man becomes a patient charmer, determined to summon mighty forces by means of millenary enchantments. In this way, like a cabalistic act, those extraordinary beings appear from his inner world, that vast symbolic town which fluctuates between what is tribal and galactic.

Critics have wasted their ink at analyzing more than forty years of Héctor Nájera's numerous productions. They have written, in that cryptic language which excludes us simple mortals from the others, of his impeccable technique, of the space conquered and reconstructed by him, of rhythmic games and of harmony in his paintings, and of other aspects quite significant of his work. All this is without a doubt great, but it occurs to me that the most interesting point of any work of art is the capability of touching and transforming the viewer. I suppose that there are people who remain firm and unbending in the presence of Nájera's paintings or sculptures and there will also be those who feel a visceral rejection. My grandfather used to say “there is a little of everything among god's flock”. But I am sure that the majority of people allow themselves to be charmed, such as myself, by this mystery, grace, and tenderness of the universe that the artist proposes to us.

His creatures soften us, they open our minds towards other dimensions of reality, where everything is possible. They are magical beings from white magic, wise in their innocence, and profoundly human. Perhaps for that reason and due to the incorporation of cultural elements and of diverse periods, Hector Nájera's work has become one of international organism's favorite and have selected him to bring people together, extending his art free of borders. I have above my desk one of Nájera's small sculptures firmly placed over my notes and manuscripts. It is a white and serene figure with a full stomach, a sweet extraterrestrial face and the head crowned with minute horns. It looks like a feminine angel, frightened by mere coincidence over my desk and resigned to stay there for an indefinite period, fulfilling the noble task of helping me when my inspiration becomes distracted. It greets me formally in the mornings and sighs good night with its atrophied wings. I hope it accompanies me for many more years in this singular job of telling stories.

FORM AND EXPRESSION IN HECTOR NÁJERA'S PAINTING

Berta Taracena, the prominent art critic of the most important Mexican masters of the plastic arts, such as: Orozco, Tamayo, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Chavez Morado and many others, talks and give her opinion on the work of the painter and sculptor Héctor Nájera.

His research in different fields of art and technique are the justifications for him to be considered as a restless spirit. His theoretic and poetic thinking don't stop imaginative new solutions for today's turbulent and overwhelming life. Since the 50's decade, his works were considered originals contributions to the expressions development conquered after the figurative and abstract revolution in the history of plastic arts. Those years were propitious, and this is how Héctor Nájera understood it, to look for the creative evolution of many ideas recently sketched by the visual transformations. The young artist dedicated since then to renovate ways, enlarge resources and investigate not well explored elements and materials in order to find other ways of raising plastic image. Summing up the context of the subject and of the informal freedom of the gestures with secrets of the pigment, he could conjugate opportunities brought up by new technology, in order to create an original way of expressing that contains a fertile and dynamic gaze to the future like a critic conception of the surrounding world.

Through his paintings and his poetry can be understood that Nájera in the project of proposing new ideas, always passionately found of everything that can be glimpsed as an unlimited future in changing of the human. He is an artist that understands the value of the creative strength of the piece of work with new proposals of the science and technology with a human content. Arising with poetical specialty, before the impassivity and the inertia of an indifferent world, that the paralysis must be shacked off in order to create better situations and that broad and slow rhythm, expressively cultivated by Nájera, sets the attention and the event in other dimensions, pushing the spectator farther than his comfortable position of passive contemplator.

Dilated time, the adding up of actions, boundary of accidental encounters, Héctor Nájera's piece of work aims to shade man's existence, passive and daily. Contemplating the simplest facts of the world, he reaches his inwardness and presents with original and fantastic images his experience in reality, unique and not transferable.

The paused slowness of the symbolic plastic images of Héctor Nájera, is the result of the search of an arrangement in each step of the artist's development in his four decades of fruitful work. It's about a whole world of beings, of images in which encourages, because of it's mystery, the body of many things of nature, full of life, of invisible forces that make fantasy work actively.

HÉCTOR NÁJERA AND HIS WORK
The art - we know - can be explain as an activity of dreams, being part of its communicative essence on his going forward and coming back from the I to the You. (Generators of Us). In its inventive and transformative faculties, following a vocation of making a path.

In fulfillment of such vocation, Héctor Nájera is a traveler in a permanent quest for colors and contrasts, forms and essences, materials and techniques; and makes the compromise to reveal its findings faithfully with recurrent subjects, always originals. I this playing trough the art, with no doubt he achieve the different work, done with love, since his is not a irresponsible creation. It is an activity full of dreams done with passion and commitment but with spontaneity, humor and ingenuity. He talks with his images in figurative representations, but it does so with form, color, textures and composition... Also expressed with abstractions.

But not only we should mention his pictorial production, the same attitudes applies to the volumes in the sclerotic activity of great worth of the master Nájera. Trough his work, the artist makes of his profession a faith in life by the paths of a luminous fantasy in a deep and mysterious dialog with reality and the presentation of original proposals on the oneiric world. It is true, reality is tangible; but is taken by the and of the dreams y bring us to the contemplation of the fantastic. Profoundly alive. Where the temporality and the eternal; the amazing and the common, the immanent and the transcendent are combined.

It has being said that the work of Héctor Nájera is influenced by the surrealist currents. That affirmation can be found in the fact that his pictorial and escultoric manifestations establish a relation with the imaginary worlds. But not if we want to think of it as irrational. The master Nájera, trough his work, allow us to penetrate in the fields of delicacy and joviality. We can said that his purpose is to invite the spectator to leave those stereotyped attitudes in order to get spontaneous answers that encourage him in the search of the joy for the finding of new forms and behaviors from the artistic expression in favor to the art.

SELLECTION OF EXHIBITS
George Gastini Gallery
Los Angeles, California, USA
1950

Cawel Gallery, San Francisco,
California, USA,
1951

Bernard Levin Art Gallery,
Los Angeles, California, USA,
1952

Edgar Acosta Gallery,
Beverly Hills, California, USA,
1953

Gallery de Ville,
Los Angeles, California, USA,
1954

Panamerican Union,
Washington D.C., USA,
1955

Royal Gallery,
Londres, Inglaterra,
1956

Ankrum Gallery,
New York, NY, USA,
1957

Windsor Gallery,
Chicago, Illinois, USA,
1958

Santa Barbara Art Gallery,
Sta Barbara, California, USA,
1959

Gallery de Ville,
Los Angeles California, USA,
1960

Windsor Gallery,
Chicago, Illinois, USA,
1961

Anrkum Gallery,
New York, NY, USA,
1962

Heritage Gallery,
Londres, Inglaterra,
1963

Edgar Acosta Gallery,
Beverly Hills, California, USA,
1964

Anrkum Gallery,
New York, NY, USA,
1965

Panamerican Union,
Washington, D.C., USA,
1966

Cawel Gallery,
San Francisco, California, USA,
1967

Royal Gallery,
Londres, Inglaterra,
1968

Harrisborough Museum,
Pennsylvania, USA.
1996

Art Miami 96,
Miami Beach Convention Center, FL. USA,
1996

Art Americas 96,
Miami Beach Con. Center, FL. USA,
1996

Galería de Arte Moderno,
Guadalajara, Jalisco, México,
1996

The Embassy Gallery,
Miami (Coral Gables), FL. USA,
1996

University of Rodgers,
New Jersey, USA,
1996

Foro de Arte y Cultura del Estado de Jalisco,
México,
1996

Galería los Toldos,
Monterrey, Nuevo León, México,
1996

Gallerie Dorita,
Atlanta, Georgia, USA,
1996

Park Avenue Gallery,
New York, NY, USA,
1996

U.N.A.M.
Centro de estudios para extranjeros, México, D.F.
1996

Itinerant Exhibition,
Ourante, España,
1997

FAD Gallery,
Los Angeles CA. USA,
1997

Bane Gallery,
Beverly Hills, California, USA,
1997

Modern Art,
Zapopan, Jalisco, México,
1997

Instituto Colimense de Cultura,
Colima, Col., México,
1997

Gallerie Dorita,
Atlanta Georgia, USA,
1997

Ex-Convento del Carmen,
Guadalajara, Jal., México,
1997

Galería los Colomos,
Zapopan, Jal., México.
1997

Silent Art Auction, League Against Cancer,
Miami, USA.
1997

FIL-97,
Guadalajara, Jal., México,
1997

Subasta de la Cruz Roja,
Monterrey, Nuevo León, México,
1997

Art-Expo New York, NY, USA,
1998 Art International
New York, NY, USA,
1998

Tule Gallery,
Seattle, Washington, USA,
1998

The Embassy Gallery,
Coral Gables, FL, USA,
1998

Exposición, Jalisco en San José,
San José, CA, USA,
1998

Grupo E.X. Gallery,
Morelia, Michoácan, México,
1998

Bienal Alfonso Michel,
Instituto Colimense, Col., México,
1998

Atlas Gallery,
Chicago, IL, USA,
1998

ARCO 1998,
Madrid, España.
Vancouver Art-Fair,
Vancouver, Canada,
1998

Steinbeck Museum,
Salinas, California, USA.
1999

Modern Art Museum,
San José, California, USA.
1999

SOFA,
New York, NY, USA,
1999

SAI Gallery,
New York, NY, USA,
1999

Bettcher Gallery,
South Beach, Miami, FL, USA,
1999.

Cesarea Gallery,
Boca Raton, FL. USA,
1999

Centro de las Artes y la Cultura,
Portland, Oregon, USA,
1999

Oficinas de BANCOMEXT,
New York, NY, USA,
1999

El Bosque Gallery,
Guadalajara, México.
1999

Televisa,
Guadalajara, Jal. México.
1999

Galería de Arte Moderno,
Guadalajara, Jal., México.
1999

German School Exhibition,
W. Planes, N. York, NY, USA,
1999

FIAC
Paris, France.
1999

The Bronx Museum Store,
Bronx, New York,
2000.

Artistas en el Tiempo,
Casa de los Colomos, Guad., México,
2000

Enciclopedia de las Artes,
Guadalajara, Jal., México,
2000

Atlas Gallery,
Puerto Rico,
2000

Independent Film Festival,
New York,
2000

SAI Gallery,
New York, USA,
2000

Private Exhibition 54th St.,
New York, USA,
2000.

SOFA 2000,
The Armory, New York, NY, USA,
2000

The Tech Museum,
San Jose, CA, USA,
2000

Pinacoteca de la Universidad de Colima,
Colima, México,
2001.

German Embassy in Mexico,
Mexico City,
2001.

Premio Ocho Columnas,
Puerta de Hierro, Guad., México,
2001.

Bridge Show,
San Jose, CA. USA,
2001.

SOFA,
International Art Show, New York, NY, USA,
2001.

Museo del Periodista,
Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico.
2001.

Galería Metropolitana de la U.A.M.,
México D.F., México,
2001.

SOFA,
International Art Show, New York, NY, USA,
2002.

Fong Gallery,
San Jose, CA, USA,
2002

Presidencia Municipal,
Zapopan, Jal., México,
2003

Galería Chez Pier,
Guadalajara, Jal., México
2003

SELLECTION OF PERMANENT COLLECTIONS IN MUSEUMS
1. Museo de Arte Contemporáneo “Fra. Angelico”, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

2. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Hamma-Argel, Argelia.

3. Museo Europos Parkas, Lituania.

4. Miami Art Center, Miami FL, USA.

5. Museo de la Provincia de Bali, Bali, Indonesia.

6. Galería Nacional de Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica.

7. San Antonio Museum of Art, Rockefeller Art Center, Texas, USA.

8. Museo de Arte Moderno de Bucaramanga, Colombia.

9. Museo Bolivariano de Arte Contemporáneo, Santa Martha, Colombia.

10. Hofstra Museum, Hempstead, New York, USA.

11. Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables, Florida, USA.

12. Museo de Arte “Alfredo Ramírez de Arellano Inc.”San German, Puerto Rico.

13. Museo José María Velasco, Estado de México, México.

14. Museo de Bellas Artes, Toluca, Estado de México, México.

15. Museo de Arte “Ramírez Villamisar”, Pamplona, Colombia.

16. Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana, Quito, Ecuador.

17. Casa de la Primera Imprenta de América, México D.F.

18. Centro de Convenciones de la ciudad de Guayama, Puerto Rico.

19. Museu Memorial Da America Latina, Sao Paulo, Brasil.

20. Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera, Buffalo, NY, USA.

21. Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL, USA.

22. Museo Regional de Arte Costarricense, San José, Costa Rica.

23. Museo Dr. Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia, San José, Costa Rica.

24. Museo de Arte Contemporáneo del País, Montevideo, Uruguay.

25. Museo de Arte Moderno de Cartagena, Cartagena, Colombia

26. Museo de Bellas Artes “Franklin Rawson”, San Juan, Argentina.

27. Museo de Arte “Eduardo Minnicelli”, Santa Cruz, Argentina.

28. Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno Carlos Mérida, Ciudad Guatemala, Guatemala.

29. Summit Lounge, Dept. of Foreign Affairs, Manila, Philippines.

30. Te Papa Museum, Wellington, New Zealand.

31. Singapore Art Museum. Singapore.

32. Collection of the Palazzo Begni, Republica di San Marino.

33. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sarajevo, Republic of Croatia.

34. Palacio da Cultura, Prala, Cabo Verde.

35. Museo Nacional de la Estampa, México, D.F. México.

36. Instituto Colimense de Cultura, Colima, México.

37. Hungarian Fine Art Museum, Hungry.

38. Museo Nacional de Arte de Belorusia, Minsk, Belorusia

39. National Gallery of Slovak, Bratislavia, Slovak.

40. Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Caracas, Venezuela.

41. Museum Olga Havlová, Praga, Czech Republic.

42. Museo José Luis Cuevas, México D.F., México.

43. Instituto Cultural Cabañas, Guadalajara, México.

44. Instituto Mexiquense de Cultura, Estado de México, México.

45. Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Univ. de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

46. Museo de las Artes, Universidad de Guadalajara, Jal. México.

47. Museo Nacional del Grabado, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

48. Colección Permanente del Ayuntamiento de Zapopan, Jalisco, México.

49. Casa de la Cultura de Zapopan, Zapopan, Jalisco, México.

50. Museo de la Ciudad, Rosemead, California, USA.

51. Saginaw Art Museum, Saginaw Oregon, USA.

52. Museo Wilfrido Lam, La Habana, Marianao, Cuba

53. Museo de Historia, Cartago, Costa Rica

54. Museo de Antropología e Historia, San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

55. Museo de Arte, Masan, Corea.

56. Museum and Collection of the University of Alberta, Canada.


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