Nicolás de Jesús (b. 1960)
Nicolás de Jesús was born and raised in a small Nauha village in central Guerrero named Amayaltepec. At a young age he learned how to paint on amate
bark paper from his father Pablo de Jesúsone of the first artisans in all of Mexico (he started in 1962) to produce the type of work that is now mass-produced and sold at tourist destinations. By the time the well respected art activist Felipe Ehrenberg started to teach Nicolás etching and other printing techniques, the young artist had already adopted the traditional amate
composition with many whimsical and detailed characters and a great empty space atop the page to suggest a great distance. The reoccurring theme in Amayaltepec amates
is everyday village lifeit’s celebrations and beliefs. After moving to Chicago in the 1980’s, de Jesús additionally started to depict urban life in U.S. barrios in the same manner.
Both of the prints on display at Frontera Grill are prime examples of Nicolás de Jesús’s work. The compositions and perspectives are a direct reference to his father’s self-taught, naive background. Although Nicolás’s work is clearly more refined, one can still recognize his strong popular art roots. As is true in the work of many mestizo
(Spanish and indigenous) artists, the notions of everyday life, work and traditions is juxtaposed with a spiritual reality in de Jesús’s work. Secular and sacred go hand in hand to complete life’s big picture. In Campesinos
we see a detailed nostalgic scene of work in the fields of a Nauha
community, while El Regreso
depicts the ardent faith in the annual return of one’s dearly departed souls every November 1st and 2nd.