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Artist Rosendo Perez Pinacho: Canoes Took Him All Over the World

Pérez Pinacho

Luis Oberhauser, Rosendo Pérez Pinacho y Maritere Rodríguez

By Jesús Aguado

Artist Rosendo Pérez Pinacho, whose paintings featuring canoes are exhibited across the world, recently visited San Miguel de Allende. In an interview with Atención, he revealed the canoes’ meaning and told us about how he came to be a painter growing up in a small town in the state of Oaxaca.

Pérez Pinacho was born 47 years ago in Candelaria Loxicha, Oaxaca. Pinacho calls the community of less than 10,000 people “Little Mesopotamia” because it is surrounded by three rivers. There, young Pinacho found his passion drawing in the river’s sands—renderings of the fish, corals, crabs, and shells that washed ashore into his universe.

When he was 14 years old, his high school teacher encouraged him to enroll in a fine arts school in the capital city of Oaxaca. There, Pinacho had contact with a library for the first time and with the great masters of painting. A one-year course turned into four years.

When he went back to his community, it was not to either get married or open a humble business as a sign painter and be like his former classmates and friends but to be an artist who later went on to help the small nearby community that inspired his art.

Pinacho’s “signature” style involves painting cayucos—little canoes made of a single piece of wood—that appear in his art. A small town near his hometown inspired this leitmotif:

“I went to San Francisco del Mar,” he explains. “The lagoon there is big, and when I went the first time, they caught 30 tons of shrimp. The cayucos are a constant there; some were abandoned, others were still in use. Later, the lagoon got polluted, and they were not catching as much shrimp as they used to. We organized an art auction, and the money we raised went to clean up the place. I love nature.”

While that was the beginning of his inclusion of the canoes, they took on a different connotation later, about the journey of life, like that of the man from José Saramago´s The Tale of the Unknown Island, where a sailor with no experience asks the king for a ship in order to go and find his own unknown island.

Not unlike that sailor’s request, Pinacho’s art has taken him outside his community and far out into the world. His works are exhibited not only in México but in countries like the US, Japan, Germany, France, and Spain.

“My first pieces went to Spain,” said Pinacho. “I have other works in Miami. I go twice a year there. I have works in México City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, and in Argentina,” he said.

One of the works in Miami, a mural entitled Live Aqua, Eternal Earth, is on permanent display in the lobby at the Aventura Óptima Hotel. It features the reflection of a town on the water with cayucos and a mythological tree—an allegory for the cosmos and the underworld.


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