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Nicolás Cuellar, The Soul of San Miguel Allende

By Hortensia Cuellar

On Saturday, September 2th, at the iconic Galería Torre del Reloj (Clock Tower Gallery), in Miguel Hidalgo borough in Mexico City, Magdalena Zavala Bonachea , National Coordinator of the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA), and Gabriela Salido, Engineer, Executive Director of Social Development at the borough, inaugurated an exhibition of the great painter of San Miguel, Jesús Nicolás Cuellar (1927 – 2010), titled “El Alma de San Miguel Allende” (The Soul of San Miguel Allende). The event was highly attended by artists, local and foreign visitors, family and friends of the painter. The artist’s wife, María Socorro González (Coco), and four of his sons were the guests of honor.

Next, some excerpts from Hortensia Cuéllar speech in which we can appreciate very interesting traits from her father’s work.

«Nicolás Cuéllar, in his creative evolution, called himself “an artist devoted to all things Mexican, possessor of a surrealist expressionism full of fantasy, symbolism, strength and originality”, his paintings are easily identifiable as “a Cuellar”. All have his mark.

At the pictorial instance there is no other native painter of San Miguel Allende comparable in artistic production, geniality, and originality. When he entered Allende Institute back on the 50s, Chávez Morado signed his acceptance letter, and the great Diego, Diego Rivera, when he met my father, a young painter, congratulated him and told him “Nicolás, you will be a monster of painting”.

An iconic characteristic of my father, was his conviction that San Miguel de Allende was the best place in the world to live in, where the neo-Gothic parish of san Miguel Arcángel (Saint Michael the Archangel) was his eternal and unconditional obsession, the center of the universe, and he immortalized it stylized in great number of his paintings, melting it into his conscience, his soul, his brushes and his master hand, so it arises majestic and bright in “Rumors” or as an oblation jewel in “Guadalupe” and in many more in the distance as in “La Viejita” (“The Old Lady”). At the parish of San Miguel Arcángel he had found the true soul of San Miguel de Allende. However, how very well expressed it is for painting that “Nicolás Cuellar is the soul of San Miguel Allende (the name the INBA gave to the exhibition), and “the painter of San Miguel Allende for the world”, as named by San Miguel City Hall in 2012.

Another singular feature, is the enormous and lovely eyes in their faces, which he used to call “windows of the soul”, “doors open to fantasy and infinity,” as can be neatly observed in exhibition paintings such as “Cortés y la Malinche,” “Roots,” “The Virgin…before Guadalupe”, etc.

The work of great artists, of geniuses, projects their soul, the most intimate of their interior world and their perception of the reality, and this is what they give us, what we can admire and what we appreciate as an eternal legacy not only for Mexicans but for humanity. They in many cases do not perceive their greatness. That’s the case of my father who expressed with all simplicity in a poem: “I only want to be a harlequin, an elf, a wizard, a genie of the painting”. And I believe he accomplished this».

The show that is itinerant, is open all September, then will travel to other cities.



“The Soul of San Miguel Allende”

Work from Nicolás Cuéllar

Galería la Torre del Reloj, Col. Chapultepec-Polanco

Ciudad de México

Sep 2-Oct 1, 10am-3pm and 4-7pm

Weekends there are guided tours

Coming soon in San Miguel




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