Concordance of Amate Painters
The following directory offerssome pictures of amates, and paintings, in my collection (a few are borrowed images). I have about 200 museum-quality amates, which I believe is the biggest quality collection in the world, and many paintings by artists from the area. Here is only a small sample of the creativity and diversity of amate art.
I am planning to write about the amate arts in more detail in the future, this page will offer periodic updates on those writings. For now, there are three excellent books on amate. Jonathan Amith’s The Amate Tradition (La Tradicion del Amate is the formal title, if you are doing a search) is in both English and Spanish. Catherine Good’s Haciendo la Lucha is in Spanish only. Plus there is Gobi Stromberg’s El Universo del Amate. Amith’s you can get from Amazon, I highly recommend it, it is simply great and has wonderful color plates. The others are harder to find.
Where relevant, I have added some information about the artist. I am not an art dealer and not interested in selling any of these, though if you want one I would be happy to put you in touch with the artist and give you information about prices, etc. gratis. Most amate painters charge but a pittance for the quality of work they offer!
Amates come from four primary villages in the Rio Balsas area: San Agustin Oapan, Ameyeltapec, Xalitla, and Maxela. I have organized the presentation by village, concentrating on San Agustin and Ameyeltapec, and then by artist. Some of the pictures, especially by the Ayalas, are paintings on board or canvas rather than amates.
I will be adding to this page in the future.
If I had to say, my favorite artists from the group are Marcial Camilo Ayala, Juan Camilo Ayala, Roberto Mauricio, Felipe de la Rosa, and Francisco Garcia Simona.
San Agustin Oapan
San Agustin is the oldest and largest of the villages, and serves as the
center of Rio Balsas culture. It is set right by the water (click here to see
photos, but the best representations of the village are found in the pictures
Marcial Camilo Ayala
He is, quite simply, the best, and widely recognized as such in his community. He both paints and does amates. See my writing on the Ayala brothers, on this web page, for more information about him. Plus see the attached picture of the artist.
The picture with fires burning is Marcial's representation of
Dante's Divine Comedy, which he read in 1999. Marcial's paintings
are rich in symbols, I am happy to explain any of these pieces to you.
Right now Marcial is at work on some larger projects for me, including a
16-amate history of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, plus the largest amate
ever drawn, eight foot by four foot.
Juan Camilo Ayala
Brother of Marcial, again see the section of this web page
on the Ayala brothers. Juan is part of the “big six” of San Agustin, including
Marcial, Juan, Felix (the third brother), Felix Jimenez, Inocencio Chino, and
Roberto Mauricio. Many of the paintings are very large, the scans do not
do them justice. The one in the dark, with four people hunting, those
are the four Ayala brothers, portrayed in their youth (the fourth, Fausto, does
not paint). See also the attached photo of the family, and of Juan.
Felix Camilo Ayala
The third Ayala brother.
Another of the “big six” of San Agustin, and one of the very
best. He has a very flamboyant and charming personality, and plays part-time
in a mariachi band. The figure under the tree in the black and white amate
is a self-portrait of “El Senor,” as he calls himself.
Felix Jimenez Chino
The only amate I have seen that has sex in it.
Inocencio Jimenez Chino
Ameyaltepec is set like one of those medieval
Italian villages, built into the hillside, vertically. A spectacular setting.
From some of the roofs you can look down on San Agustin, in the distance.
It is about an hour walk from one to another, if you are an adept climber. Ameyaltepec
is richer than San Agustin and the town has a very different personality and
feel. Ameyaltepec is where amate painting first started in 1961.
One of my favorites
Eusebio Diez Alejandro
Eusebio is best
known for his scenes of apocalypses and for his very forceful and
highly detailed work. He works only in black and white, and spends most of the
year working in the fields. I bought this harvest scene from him last
year. I think he is one of the best.
Cristino Flores Medina
Like most amate artists, he works in the fields and paints
in his spare time. The vertical piece is the story of “Delgadita,” a
woman who wastes away from anorexia.
He works effectively in a variety of
media, black and white and color.
Felipe de la Rosa
Perhaps the most rigorous and precise of all amate artists.
Many of his scenes remind me of Persian and Indian miniatures.
Pedro de la Rosa
Francisco Garcia Simona
One of the very first amate painters,
and still one of the best. These scans do not do justice to the details
in his work. Unfortunately he has passed away.
Eleodor Garcia Simona
From the same family as Francisco,
very similar style.
Francisco Cirenio Jimenez
The master of the detailed, vertically stacked amate. The family also does wonderful plates.
Nicholas de Jesus
Nicholas has met the most commercial success of any amate painter, with his modern lithographs. He even has a studio in Chicago. His more successful work moves somewhat away from the traditional style (see the Amith book for some plates of the lithographs). Here I reproduce a very rare early amate by him, still in the traditional style, from the mid-1980s. Nicholas is son of the famed Pablo de Jesus, the very first known painter of amates (unfortunately I do not own any by Pablo, he died quite a while ago, but I am looking, let me know if you have any.)
Juana Leonardo Norbert
Painters of unknown origin (I am working
on tracking them down, though)
Marcial Camilo Ayala -- 16 Amate Series on the History of the Nahua People
Marcial Camilo Ayala is currently doing a sixteen-amate series on the history of the Nahua people. This piece represents the Nahua myth concerning the origin of the world.
This piece represents the Nahua myth of settlement from the caves of Chicomostoc
The Founding of Tenochitlan
Construction of the Canals
Battle of the Sad Night
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