Jorge Obregon

Mexico City, 1972 -

Exhibition: Grand Canyon, Zion and Sedona Experience (On View: October 17th, 2018 through January 9th, 2019)

Jorge Obregon is one of the most notable contemporary landscape artists in Mexico. He has realized important projects of en plein air painting (outdoors painting) in Spain, Finland, Ecuador, Mexico, USA and Japan. This extraordinary exhibition presents 18 paintings created outdoors by him during a two months pilgrimage through the Colorado Plateau, an area known as the region of the four corners, covering the boundaries of the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. Home of three majestic artworks created by nature throughout millions of years: The Grand Canyon, Zion and Sedona


Exhibition Catalog Text by David Adberstein

“Grand Canyon, Zion and Sedona Experience,” this could be the title of an adventure movie or a documentary, but in this case, it is the name of this exhibition which consists of 18 paintings made by Jorge Obregon in his latest expedition. But looking back at it, why not, it is also the name of this catalogue that narrates a little of the history of such excellent artist, as well as his participation and relationship with the history of art in Mexico. Moreover, it presents us a movie in slow motion, meaning, frame by frame, about his adventure through the Colorado Plateau.

Jorge Obregon spent two months, June and July of this year, traveling in his trailer and painting en plein air (is a French expression that means “in the open air.” It is used by artists to describe the art of outdoor painting) the most beautiful views of the Colorado Plateau, an area known as the region of the four corners, covering the boundaries of the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. It is a place where three majestic artworks created by nature throughout millions of years, climb to the sky and give their testimony of the passage of time. The first one is the Grand Canyon, with a length of 277 miles, a width of 18 miles and a depth of over a mile. It has been carved by the Colorado River, layer by layer, throughout millions of years, exposing close to 2 billions years of Earth’s geological history. The second one is Zion, with a length of 15 miles and a depth of half a mile. It is a formation that represents the sedimentation process of 150 million years. Currently, Zion is crossed by the Virgin River, and hosts an unusual diversity of vegetation and fauna. Lastly, Sedona, which is characterized by its unique formation of red rocks that shine in bright tones of orange and red with the light of every sunrise and sunset. These three places are witnesses of the formation of Earth and have been the home of Native Americans for thousands of years.

Jorge Obregon is one of the most notable landscape artists of the twenty-first century in Mexico. He is heir to the practices, teachings and evolution of the Mexican landscape artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, and at the same time he is an explorer of new trends and horizons. He has been the successor of the traveling painters, following the tradition of plein air painting (painting outdoors), traveling through not only his country of origin, but several parts of the world. Each artist selects something to paint, something that inspires him and what he connects with. In the case of Obregon, he has selected Mother Earth, looking for places that have been shaped by nature through millions of years to recreate in his paintings.

Landscape painting in Mexico has its origin with nineteenth century traveling painters. Artists who temporarily traveled from Europe to Mexico, such as Pedro Gualdi, Daniel Thomas Egerton, Johann Moritz Rugendas, Carl Nebel, Baron Jean Baptiste-Louis Gros, Frederick Catherwood, August Lohr, Paul Fischer, Conrad Wise Chapman, among others. These artists captured the landscapes of Mexico in a realistic style. Their paintings showed not only the landscape, but they also included the buildings and people who populated those places. Therefore those paintings were more than artworks but also historical testimonies of the landscape and customs of that time. However, it was not until 1855, with the arrival to Mexico of the Italian painter Eugenio Landesio, as a landscape and perspective professor at the Academy of San Carlos, that landscape painting truly began in Mexico. Eugenio Landesio had several excellent disciples, but the most outstanding was Jose Maria Velasco, who was the first Mexican artist to travel all over Mexico making excellent landscapes and later exhibiting them abroad, showing Mexico to the world. 

In the early twentieth century, Joaquin Clausell and other contemporary artists were the face of Mexican Impressionism, but the most notable contribution to modern landscape painting in the first half of the twentieth century was that of Dr. Atl, who after studying at the Academy of San Carlos and later in Europe, returned to Mexico to modernize landscape painting from that time. Dr. Atl introduced the first ideas of the synthesized landscape, eliminated the traditional perspective to replace it with the curvilinear perspective and the superposition of planes, he used a vivid and vibrant color palette, and created a new technique called Atlcolor, which is a kind of encaustic based on waxes, pigments and resins that he manufactured. Later, Luis Nishizawa who also studied at the Academy of San Carlos, incorporated knowledge and techniques from Japan to his art and became the most outstanding landscape painter of the second half of the twentieth century in Mexico. Nishizawa synthesized the landscape even more, played with the superposition of planes, and took advantage of the vividness and qualities of color, in order to achieve clean, pure, bright, colorful, and smooth landscapes. Nishizawa, like Dr. Atl, dedicated a large part of his life to perfecting his technique and mastering the use of materials. For many years Nishizawa taught the course Technique of Materials at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plasticas (National School of Visual Arts), formerly known as the Academy of San Carlos, and now part of the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico).

The tradition of plein air painting has been the common ground between nineteenth-century traveling painters, Jose Maria Velasco, Dr. Atl, Luis Nishizawa, and now Jorge Obregon, who was one of the main disciples of Luis Nishizawa. The style of Jorge Obregon clearly shows the influence of his mentor Luis Nishizawa, in how Obregon synthesizes the landscape, the smoothness of his work, and his color palette. However, it can also be seen the influence of Dr. Atl on Obregon’s work, one of the artists that Obregon admires. This influence is more noticeable in his aerial views, in how he paints the vegetation, and also in his color palette. Finally, in the works that make up this exhibition, it is possible to see the influence of the American painter Christopher Chippendale, with whom Jorge Obregon made contact in 2015.

But who better than Jorge Obregon to tell us about his own history, trajectory, expeditions and this exhibition, for which he answers the following questions ... click to see interview



About Jorge Obregon

Although the landscape genre has its antecedents in the naturalistic tradition, the alliance between knowledge and aesthetics evolved until abandoning the faithful reproduction of the natural physiognomy to give way to a pictorial genre that allowed revolutionary artists of the nineteenth century to explore new plastic ways by means of light, space and brushstrokes. This was how the expeditionary illustrations evolved to become pieces of creative and artistic experimentation.

In the old style of traveling artists, Jorge Obregón has scaled and explored different volcanoes of the world in order to find the right frames and the ideal perspective that allow him not only to paint volcanoes but to develop in his work a different experience in regard to aesthetic, light and space. During his artistic training, the landscape artist began his relationship with the volcanoes under the tutelage of the master Luis Nishizawa, who motivated him to paint outdoors and take back the colossi (Iztaccihuatl and Popocatépetl volcanoes) as a reason for his plastic work. José María Velasco and Dr. Atl are also part of his influences and inspiration to dedicate himself to landscape painting, a genre that has often been declared dead and declining. However, Obregón has demonstrated the opposite by forging a plastic and landscape imprint that place him very close to the Mexican painters of the volcano par excellence.

Being in contact with the volcanic landscape, the artist performs an intense exercise of perception that allows him to apprehend all the information that space offers him to synthesize it in a canvas or paper, without losing sight of the first impression that impelled him to select a certain frame or shot of the panorama. (Source: “Vivir el paisaje: Obra plástica y escultura de Jorge Obregón” by Tita Ochoa Rivera, September 2012, exhibition catalog “Jorge Obregón: México, tierra de volcanes”, Museo Regional de Historia de Colima)


Main Solo Exhibitions


1995 Geografia del Espacio, Escuela Nacional de Artes Plasticas, Mexico City

1995 Actividad y Extincion, Colegio Westminster, Mexico City  

1996 Volcanes de Mexico, Casa de Arte Nicandi Beu, Coyoacan, Mexico City

1997 Llum del Pirineu Català, L’ Estudi de Farrera de Pallars, Cataluña, Spain

1997 Llum del Pirineu Català, The Quiet Man, Barcelona, Spain

1997 Encuentros de aire y luz, Galeria Albatros, Coyoacan, Mexico City

1997 Ritmos de la Naturaleza, Museo del Pueblo de Guanajuato, Guanajuato

1999 Llum del Pirineu Català, Casa de la Cultura de la U.A.E.M. en Tlalpan, Mexico City

1999 Luz de Plata y Sol de Medianoche, Galeria Lourdes Chumacero, Mexico City

2000 Entre cumbres y barrancas, SEDESOL, Mexico City

2002 Vision de Lejania, Festival del Centro Historico, Casa de la Primera Imprenta de America, Mexico City

2005 Un recorrido por el Popocatepetl y el Iztaccíhuatl, Museo Luis Nishizawa, Toluca, Estado de Mexico

2007 Sierras de Coahuila, Museo del Desierto, Saltillo, Mexico

2007 Al aire libre, Galerias Louis C. Morton, Mexico City

2007 Una Mirada al Campo, Museo Nacional de Agricultura, Universidad Autonoma de Chapingo, Texcoco, Mexico

2011 Mexico y Los Picos de Europa, dominios de roca y volcanes, Museo Casa del Risco, Mexico City

2012 Mexico y los Picos de Europa, dominios de roca y volcanes" , Museo de Arte Moderno del Estado de Mexico, Toluca

2012 México, tierra de volcanes, Museo Regional de Historia de Colima, Colima

2013 Episodios de Luz, Galeria Casa Lamm, Mexico City

2014 Mexico y Japon, territorios de fuego, Embajada de Mexico en Japon, Tokio

2015 Mexico y Japon, territorios de fuego, Museo Casa del Risco, Mexico City

2015 Mexico y Japon, territorios de fuego, Espacio Japon, Embajada de Japon, Mexico City

2016 Remanentes de la cuenca, Aldama Fine Art, Mexico City