César A. Martínez: Mi Gente: New York

November 4, 2021 - January 21, 2022
  • César A. Martínez: Mi Gente

  • A major figure in the Chicano Art Movement of the late 1970s and 1980s, Martínez’s portraits are icons of Mexican American art history. Martínez was a teenager during the early 1960s in his hometown, Laredo,
    Texas where Pachucos (zoot suiters), Batos (dudes), and Rucas (girls) were part of his everyday life.

     

    Martínez is drawn to the way in which Mexican American family photographs served as intimate, personal portraits, during a time when only white individuals or groups were being iconized in paintings. Martínez offsets his melancholic subjects against a vibrant palette of clothes in tension against abstract backgrounds. The individuals in Martínez’s works are merely hybrids derived and elaborated from many different photographs found in high school yearbooks, obituaries, newspapers, and other public sources.

  • Artwork Image: César A. Martínez, Bato Con Sunglasses, 2021, Acrylic on Muslin, 28 x 22 in, 71.1 x 55.9 cm
    César A. Martínez
    Bato Con Sunglasses, 2021
    Acrylic on Muslin
    28 x 22 in
    71.1 x 55.9 cm

    “I’ve never really done art that I would say is political. But I think the kind of art that becomes politicized, as in my case and in many of my contemporaries, is simply because it had a Chicano perspective or Chicano imagery. The Chicano Movement was a renaissance in thinking about us and in creating those institutions and images and writings that reflected who we are. They were non-existent at that time, we had nothing to relate to, so we had to make it up as we went along. And that was the road to a deeper understanding of who we are.”

     

    César A. Martínez

    • César A. Martínez Veterano, 2021 Acrylic on Cotton Drill 28 x 22 in 71.1 x 55.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Veterano, 2021
      Acrylic on Cotton Drill
      28 x 22 in
      71.1 x 55.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Simon Novoa, 2021 Acrylic on Cotton Drill 28 x 22 in 71.1 x 55.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Simon Novoa, 2021
      Acrylic on Cotton Drill
      28 x 22 in
      71.1 x 55.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez La Tortuga, 2021 Acrylic on Muslin 28 x 22 in 71.1 x 55.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      La Tortuga, 2021
      Acrylic on Muslin
      28 x 22 in
      71.1 x 55.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Untitled (4Jun21), 2021 Graphite on Stonehenge paper 15 x 11 in 38.1 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Untitled (4Jun21), 2021
      Graphite on Stonehenge paper
      15 x 11 in
      38.1 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Untitled (4Oct19), 2019 Graphite on Stonehenge paper 15 x 11 in 38.1 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Untitled (4Oct19), 2019
      Graphite on Stonehenge paper
      15 x 11 in
      38.1 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Untitled (28Sept21), 2021 Graphite on Stonehenge paper 15 x 11 in 38.1 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Untitled (28Sept21), 2021
      Graphite on Stonehenge paper
      15 x 11 in
      38.1 x 27.9 cm
  • “The new paintings reflect the spirit of the drawings more and more and I couldn't be happier because evolution is a good thing, and that has been happening in different ways. The characters in the Bato/Pachuco series have, over the years, acquired more and more particularity, and much more so now with the new drawings.”

     

    César A. Martínez

    • César A. Martínez El Chino Najera, 2021 Acrylic on muslin 14 x 11 in 35.6 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      El Chino Najera, 2021
      Acrylic on muslin
      14 x 11 in
      35.6 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Meme Chavira, 2021 Acrylic on muslin 14 x 11 in 35.6 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Meme Chavira, 2021
      Acrylic on muslin
      14 x 11 in
      35.6 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Red Bato, 2021 Acrylic on Muslin 14 x 11 in 35.6 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Red Bato, 2021
      Acrylic on Muslin
      14 x 11 in
      35.6 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Veterano, 2020 Acrylic on canvas 54 x 44 x 1.75 in 137.16 x 111.76 x 4.445 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Veterano, 2020
      Acrylic on canvas
      54 x 44 x 1.75 in
      137.16 x 111.76 x 4.445 cm
    • César A. Martínez Untitled (14Jul21), 2021 Graphite on Stonehenge paper 15 x 11 in 38.1 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Untitled (14Jul21), 2021
      Graphite on Stonehenge paper
      15 x 11 in
      38.1 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Untitled (24Oct20), 2020 Graphite on Stonehenge paper 15 x 11 in 38.1 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Untitled (24Oct20), 2020
      Graphite on Stonehenge paper
      15 x 11 in
      38.1 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Untitled (22Jun21), 2021 Graphite on Stonehenge paper 15 x 11 in 38.1 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Untitled (22Jun21), 2021
      Graphite on Stonehenge paper
      15 x 11 in
      38.1 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Untitled (30Oct20), 2020 Graphite on Stonehenge paper 15 x 11 in 38.1 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Untitled (30Oct20), 2020
      Graphite on Stonehenge paper
      15 x 11 in
      38.1 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Veterano Con Gold Tooth, 2006 Acrylic on paper 30 x 22.4 in 76.2 x 56.8 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Veterano Con Gold Tooth, 2006
      Acrylic on paper
      30 x 22.4 in
      76.2 x 56.8 cm
    • César A. Martínez Shorty, 2016 Mixed media on paper 30 x 22.3 in 76.2 x 56.5 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Shorty, 2016
      Mixed media on paper
      30 x 22.3 in
      76.2 x 56.5 cm
    • César A. Martínez Simon Novoa Study, 2021 Acrylic on Muslin 14 x 11 in 35.6 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Simon Novoa Study, 2021
      Acrylic on Muslin
      14 x 11 in
      35.6 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Bato Con Guayabera , 2009 Acrylic on canvas 44 x 44 x 1.75 in 111.76 x 111.76 x 4.445 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Bato Con Guayabera , 2009
      Acrylic on canvas
      44 x 44 x 1.75 in
      111.76 x 111.76 x 4.445 cm
  • "The touch that animates César A. Martínez's portrait paintings is precise and intimate. The figures he paints -often with their eyes hidden behind sunglasses- feel like particular individuals and imagined figures simultaneously. An early interest in Color Field paintings by artists like Mark Rothko, Jules Olitski, and Kenneth Noland inspired Martínez to try his hand at the form as early as the mid-1960's. By the time he moved to San Antonio in the late '60's, he had been introduced to prominent figures active in the Chicano movement in Texas, New Mexico, and California. It is then that he began creating portraits that synthesized his interests in monochrome painting and figurative portraiture."

     

    - Dean Daderko, "A Feeling For...," Right Here Right Now: San Antonio, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2018.

    • César A. Martínez Sra Rivas During the 1930's , 2014 Acrylic on paper 26 x 22.4 in 66 x 56.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Sra Rivas During the 1930's , 2014
      Acrylic on paper
      26 x 22.4 in
      66 x 56.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Sra Farias During the 1930's, 2014 Acrylic on paper 26 x 22.4 in 66 x 56.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Sra Farias During the 1930's, 2014
      Acrylic on paper
      26 x 22.4 in
      66 x 56.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Untitled (6Oct21), 2021 Graphite on Stonehenge paper 15 x 11 in 38.1 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Untitled (6Oct21), 2021
      Graphite on Stonehenge paper
      15 x 11 in
      38.1 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Untitled (8Oct21), 2021 Graphite on Stonehenge paper 15 x 11 in 38.1 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Untitled (8Oct21), 2021
      Graphite on Stonehenge paper
      15 x 11 in
      38.1 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Untitled (11Aug21), 2021 Graphite on Stonehenge paper 15 x 11 in 38.1 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Untitled (11Aug21), 2021
      Graphite on Stonehenge paper
      15 x 11 in
      38.1 x 27.9 cm
    • César A. Martínez Untitled (4Aug21), 2021 Graphite on Stonehenge paper 15 x 11 in 38.1 x 27.9 cm
      César A. Martínez
      Untitled (4Aug21), 2021
      Graphite on Stonehenge paper
      15 x 11 in
      38.1 x 27.9 cm
  • "Each portrait represents a characteristic personality. Some are humourous; others are more poignant portrayals. As a group, they provide a variety of street types that society at large may prefer to ignore. Yet, here they are in all their glory - the common man elevated to the level of high art."

     

    - Carey Clements Rote, "César A. Martínez: A Dual Heritage," César A. Martínez: A Retrospective, The McNay Art Museum, 1999.

  • César A. Martínez
    Untitled (12Oct21), 2021
    Graphite on Stonehenge paper
    15 x 11 in
    38.1 x 27.9 cm
  • The Serape paintings started, in the late 1960s, as an ode to the Color Field movement and as a reaction...
    César A. Martínez
    Serape: De Colores, 1980
    Signed front bottom right.
    Acrylic and graphite on paper
    22.25 x 30 in
    56.51 x 76.2 cm

    The Serape paintings started, in the late 1960s, as an ode to the Color Field movement and as a reaction to contemporary art from a cultural standpoint. Martínez comments that upon seeing the work of Gene Davis he reacted: “These are like serapes!” The series was an epiphany of sorts though he did not realize it at the time and inspired the artist to create his own Serape Series.

  • César A. Martínez
    Serape: De Colores, 1980
    Acrylic and graphite on paper
    22.25 x 30 in
    56.51 x 76.2 cm