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 Hector Najera  (1931 - )

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Lived/Active: California / Mexico      Known for: Figural, Abstract

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Biography from Selker Fine Art:
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.

At the age of 20, he emigrated to the 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 has resided since.

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 foreign 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, Belgium.

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.
Isabel Allende. Sausalito, California, July 2000

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