Tonalá, Mexico, 1910 – Cuernavaca, Mexico, 1973
Retrato de mujer con máscara, 1947
Oil on canvas
35.69 X 23.4 in
Like some of his contemporaries, Jesús Guerrero Galván was able to spend some time studying abroad, in his case at the National School of Plastic Arts in San Antonio, Texas. Nevertheless, it was in his home country that he finished his training, namely at the Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado La Esmeralda. Over the course of his career he was attached to different groups: he participated in the Escuela de Pintura al Aire Libre founded by Ixca Farías in Guadalajara, where he mainly learned classical art, as well as in the “Grupo sin Número y sin Nombre” [Nameless and Numberless Group], who proclaimed themselves “redeemers of a new Tapatío [i.e., Guadalajaran] culture” through the study of modern languages. It was in this period, during the 1930s, that the painter began to favor the creation of portraits, integrating the child’s universe into them.
Guerrero Galván was quite politically active: he was an activist in the Communist Party, a member of the Alianza de Trabajadores de las Artes Plásticas and at one point he was even one of the Partido Popular’s candidates for legislative representative [diputado].
In addition to his work as a muralist for government departments like the Secretariat of Education and the Federal Commission of Electricians, he designed sets of theater productions and painted, primarily portraits. The majority of his figures are anonymous; they appear immutable and are all very similar. The light that falls on their faces and bodies is a resource that Guerrero Galván utilized to give them greater importance and a more active role. This kind of work shows the influence of Mexican painters like David Alfaro Siqueiros and Máximo Pacheco. It also indirectly celebrates the aesthetics of Mexican peoples, customs and traditions, and shares characteristics with the work of other Tapatío painters like Juan Soriano.