An Artistic Pair

By Eva López García

Editor’s Note:
Mateo López and Chely García are a dynamic and artistic couple who live in Puerto Angel. They have two daughters, one of who is Eva López García (the author of this article). Mateo López is also the grandfather of my daughter Frances. I am a fan of their art work and if you have come to Café Juanita or my cooking school you will have seen some of their work on display. To see more of their paintings and what is available for purchase you can contact their daughter Eva: evartlines@gmail.com

Mateo López

Mateo López Rodríguez, the seventh son of twelve, was born in Puerto Angel, Oaxaca, on September 21, 1948. His mother was assisted by a Zapotec midwife who cut Mateo’s umbilical cord with a machete.

In the modern world, life developed, but in Puerto Angel there were still no colours for a child with artistic aspirations. He began his first mural at the age of fifteen on a wall of the old house that his father had built. With charcoal chalks from his mother’s fire pit, he drew a compass that his father had taught him so as never to lose his way.

Mateo, who has Mixtec and Kuna ancestors who had sailed the sea; this influenced his identity and his art. He began a life at sea as a diver and has never stopped swimming and exercising. For Mateo painting counts as spiritual and mental exercise. Throughout his life he has collected knowledge and experiences that he captures in his oil painting and writing poetry.

Throughout his career he has produced more than 500 art works. Many of them are in different countries; currently he is trying to collect photographs of the works that he does not possess.

Mateo López has four children. He tries, through art, to give a little of his heart to each of them, either by giving them his portrait or by showing them his lifestyle on the path of painting, as he says “I only had primary education. Only six years of schooling in the small school in the Puerto Angel of 1955, and after that I had the best school – life.”

His forms of expression are writing and painting; his style evinces the patience he imposes in pointillism and his lyrical artistic roots. Mateo describes his painting as the technique of inner awakening; knowing yourself is a full-body window to happiness and the realization of the spirit.

Chely García

Araceli García García (Chely) was born November 12, 1976, in San Pedro Pochutla, Oaxaca, a market town that served as a distribution center for mountain coffee beans that would be exported from Puerto Angel. She was the eleventh daugther of twelve children; her family comes from the Oaxaca Valley, which has traditions and customs rooted in the cultivation of the land and the harvest. She spent part of her childhood with her family on a coffee plantation in San Pedro el Alto, high in the mountains north of Pluma Hidalgo.

As a child, she had artistic aspirations for painting. Her work today embodies her experience in that beautiful mountain landscape; flowers and exotic fruits with bright colours, the work of harvesting coffee, the horses and all the energy that producing a cup of coffee entails, the expressive faces of women who were the first to awaken each day to prepare the comal, tortillas, salsa, egg and coffee to feed the men who left on the long day of harvest.

Chely now lives facing the sea. She has dedicated herself to observing it very closely and paints it as a magical and mysterious world. Her magical surreal style with bright colours always has the distinct feeling of Mexico as it is lived in Oaxaca, often showing landscapes of small towns. Her work depicts times of sowing, of traditions like Todos Santos, when cempasúchil (marigolds), Saint Teresa and archwood flowers are harvested to elaborate our altars. Women are Chely’s favorite subjects; she captures them with different expressions, according to their memories or feelings. Angels also figure prominently in her works, they are her dreams and longings.

Chely has been dedicated to painting for 25 years. Instilling in her family the patience and inspiration that comes with a painter’s lifestyle, she is a disciplined, flexible, loving and sensitive mother. Her motto is “I paint because I feel, I am sensitive, and sensitivity is not a weakness is a gift.”

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