Jorge Purón: A Contemporary Artist Shifting With The Times
Jorge Purón is a contemporary artist who is originally from Piedras Negras. Beginning at a young age, he worked at a grocery store where he was inspired by the beautiful colors and forms of the produce and the boxes from which they came. Much of his work incorporates hard edge landscapes and bold color which he observed from scenes in the urban landscape and colorful festivals (ferias). His art is influenced by a life lived on both sides of the US-Mexico border.
With over 100 national and international solo and group exhibitions, his work has been shown at the Museum of Geometric and MADI Art in Dallas, Texas; Museo Alameda in San Antonio, Texas; Brownsville Museum of Fine Art in Brownsville, Texas; El Paso Museum of Art in El Paso, Texas; Museo Reyes Meza in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico; Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, among others. In 2002, he co-founded Jardin del Arte a project to promote artists in San Miguel de Allende, and in 2010, he was appointed Advisor to the Municipal Council of Culture in the border city of Piedras Negras, Mexico. In 2013, Purón received the Erick Schaudies Memorial Award at K Space Contemporary in Corpus Christi, Texas, the top prize for the Third Coast National juried exhibition. A consistent collaborator with other US-Mexico border artists, his work was featured in documented exhibits: Un Provincial & Borderwave in 2016. His work is part of private and corporate collections in North America and Europe. He has also worked in cinema as an Art Director and Set Designer for independent short and full-length films. This year, he was a recipient of the 2020 Actos de Confianza, NALAC Micro-Grant, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.
We sat down with Purón to ask him about his work, how COVID-19 has affected his exhibitions, and what his hopes are for 2021.
MiSA- Geometric forms are an important aspect of your work. As you were developing as an artist, were you always drawn to a more geometric/abstract approach, or was it an evolution?
Purón- The hard edge geometric style I use now, became part of the evolution in my work. My past work used to be expressionistic. However a few years ago, while in Mexico, I started looking at older work. Some of these works went way back, like 20 years even, and what I realized is that geometric forms were always there. Perhaps they were not the focal point of the piece, yet the square, rectangle, triangle, etc., were pretty consistent in my work. I've always felt my work connected to nostalgic memories of the past. I remember in school in first grade we used to do this homework called “planas”. Basically, it was repeating the same form over and over on a page. It was done to loosen up the hand because back then we were taught cursive writing. And some of these shapes were geometric, so the connection is there.
MiSA- Some of your work includes human figures. What are some things that inspire those pieces?
Purón- I constantly make reference to things I observe, like structures of the urban landscape, I also paint natural landscapes in a hard edge style. Characters, I believe, are important in storytelling, so I draw from that experience as well. Until recently, I was painting the human form utilizing geometric principles. They tend to have a sort of robotic feel to them. I'm currently working on a series of portraits where I'm straying from the purely geometric and giving these characters a more human look. I choose this because I want to give out a sense of attitude in the character. Each character has a direct connection to me. Someone I knew or someone I saw.
MiSA- You have been involved in set design. Some including horror film subject matter. Was it an easy shift for you to be involved in a more collective effort like set design?
Purón- In 1999, I worked for a production company in Los Angeles. These were big-budget productions of mostly TV commercials. I really enjoyed the process. I took an interest in the Art Department of the production. Some of that experience combined with my artistic background made me feel confident about later on participating in some short and feature film productions. These have been mostly smaller budget productions working with my friend and writer/director, Adrian Corona. I've created specific art for these films and have been in charge of art direction in some. I most recently helped in the design of the mask for the main character in the film DIS.
MiSA- As the quarantine was implemented, you had two exhibitions going with more on the way. How has it been for you?
Purón- Yes, I had two exhibits at the time. Sadly, the exhibit I had at Northeast Lakeview College had to come down early. The College was closing because of the contingency so I was asked to pick up my work. The other exhibit has been closed. I had two other exhibits planned for April that were canceled or postponed. My studio is at my home so I keep producing art normally and I keep using social platforms to show my work. I have been careful about having potential clients come to my home to view art, so I rely mostly on showing images for now.
MiSA- What are your hopes and dreams for 2021, both for yourself and the art world in general?
Purón- I just recently moved to my hometown in Mexico. I felt a change of energy was much needed. My plan is to be closer to my mom and re-connect with my family during these difficult times. I have a nice studio with lots of space and plenty of natural light so this has motivated me to get to work. Being here again has really opened up a sense of belonging and nostalgia is taking over. I have been exploring these feelings as I've already started painting a new and different series. I stray away for now from the hard edge work I've been doing in past years, and I plan to focus my energy on these new more intimate works. In a general sense, I guess like most people I hope that life and things can go back to some sort of normal for all of us. Of course, now more than ever I wish for health for myself and my loved ones.
The cover piece is entitled "Recuerdos #8" by Jorge Purón.
Elizabeth Williams is an editor and writer for Modern in San Antonio.