José Marca is a small soft-spoken gentleman living in old town Puerto Vallarta Mexico. We visited his gallery and home studio during a time of renovations just before his new show opening February 14, 2015. The show will celebrate the 10 year anniversary of his gallery and also 33 years of being married to his lovely wife Rosario. He has been painting for 40 years. He used to paint in a traditional Mexican style, lots of Fridas, flowers and cats.
Ten years ago, he started to paint from his own ideas. This little yellow 6 x 6″ painting is like the father of all the new work that came afterwards. The galleries which used to carry his Fridas and flowers did not like the new work and told him it was garbage and he must throw it out.
His wife supported him and said “No, your work is not for the garbage. No more painting of these old things, no more Fridas, no more flowers, no more cats, only your own ideas“. His work transitioned and became his own original style. Many of his customers are artists, sculptors, painters, theater people.
Self taught as a as an artist, he does not pretend to be a poet but enjoys adding words and thoughts. A small piece in acrylics called El Pensador from 2006, the thinker. “To think is to know the only thing I know is I know nothing.”
Now he only works for himself, not for galleries who of course now want his work. He sells for cash only or on payment plan, no time for fiddling with the computer, only time for painting and drawing.
Painting is like Lucido, a serious game which he enjoys. He enjoys seeing clients come in looking serious and then in a couple of seconds their faces change, as they transform into images of pleasure. His happy colors, his ideas, his words – whatever makes them smile he is happy about.
He showed me his first easel which he bought for 20 pesos (about $2). he greeted it like an old and trusted friend.
Edgar Martinez his son and a classical figurative artist himself, helps with the business side of his website. As we were chatting about his aged mother of 96 who was that moment lying in a Mexico City hospital dying of black lung caused by cooking with charcoal over many years with a young José at her side pulling on her skirt, his wife received the phone call that his mother had passed. We left them alone with their bereavement and look forward to visiting with them next time we are in Puerto Vallarta.
I find JJosé’s work very joyful, thoughtful, with the nice sense of humor. He is very direct and almost naive with tones of Basquiat or Nuno Evaristo, both artists of which he of course has never heard of as he is completely self taught. What particularly drew me to José’s work the first time I saw it several years ago was his distinct personal voice. This is the key to good art. Not polished techniques or perfect rendering but the strength and determination to speak with one’s own distinct style, not apologize for it, but celebrate it.