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 Jose Marie Mijares Fernandez  (1921 - 2004)



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Lived/Active: Florida / Cuba      Known for: figurative, geometric abstract painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Jose Mijares Fernandez
1921 (Havana, Cuba)
2004 (Miami, Florida)

Florida / Cuba

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figurative, geometric abstract painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Jose Maria Mijares Fernandez (1921 - 2004)
One of the best known Cuban Painters.

Jose Maria Mijares Fernandez was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1921, in the neighborhood of Santos Surez.  He took up drawing as an adolescent and, in 1936, at the age of 16, he entered the San Alejandro School of Fine Arts in Havana on a scholarship.  His influences there where of the painters of the "Havana School"  including his professors Ponce, Romaņach, Menocal, Valderrama, Ramon Loy, and Caravia.  Mijares himself credits one of his most influencial professors, Ponce, with helping him develop his own style of expression.  After finishing his academic studies and with a solid professional foundation, he painted prolifically in a figurative style throughout the 1940s.  His first major exhibition was in Havana in 1944 that the Capitol Building. There, he won second prize with a painting titled La Alameda, The Boulevard.  In 1947, he exhibited his works again, this time at the Lyceum Lawn Tennis Club.  He was awarded First Place in the National Paintings Prize, from the IV National Paintings, Engravings and Sculptures Salon, at the age of 29, an event that was an important milestone in his career.  His style at this time was figurative but in the 1950s changed to what he described as "concrete forms," or geometric abstraction. In fact, he became one of the pioneers of geometric abstraction in Cuba.  By the late1950s, artists were having a difficult time in Havana, all of the galleries had closed and there were few places to exhibit, so, in 1957, he returned to School of Fine Arts of San Alejandro to teach art, resigning after two years when Fidel Castro came to power.
In 1968, after surviving eight years of Fidelista communism, he fled to exile in Miami, where he abandoned his geometric style in favor of a fluid decorative one, to signify his emotional state at the abrupt and disheartening but at the same time freeing change in location.  Despite fleeing Cuba, he stated that "in my subconscious there is an inner landscape that is Cuba. Since I was exiled at an older age, that landscape cannot be erased."
In 1998, Mijares was interviewed for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.  Mijares was awarded an honorary Doctorate from Florida International University in 2001.  In 2002, he opened the Mijares Gallery in Coral Gables, FL to exhibit his works.  He died in Miami, FL in 2004.
Information provided by Lisette Ruch.

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