Jose Clemente Orozo

Justino Fernandez, 1951

Out of contemporary painting Orozco emerges and grows day by day. It is his penetrating critical sense of human reality which gives him universal stature, through his powerful expression and original forms.

He did not lose himself in abstractionisms which had no roots in his own circumstance; it was his historical world and time that he took into the category of art. It was so in the past with the great creators such as Goya, with whom Orozco has many a point of contact. When Orozco painted Mexican reality, he gave essences of it, and because of his profound human sense, the essential is universally recognized. That is why his work is so valuable; he is the highest example of how one can be both himself and universal.

Orozco ascended from historical-philosophical interpretations to metaphysical and meta-human meditations. All of this work is a discourse on man, in this or that circumstance. He was no idealist in that he was no prophet; on the contrary, centered on his present, he was a realist, a witness of genius of the world he lived in. As such, as few may, he was able to see deep into human nature, which means horror in so many cases, but as a painter he made even horror delightful through the refinement and force of his art. His art is a proof that man can be otherwise than horrid; such is the paradox.

It is not easy to apprehend and comprehend his vast work in its entirety, especially when we think of his murals, since we must see it presented in fragments. Even so, I believe that one may start by comprehending a single example, and end in the comprehension of the whole.

If enough attention is given to the present exhibition, much that is new will be discovered in works which, at first glance, seem to be already known; such is the enduring quality of Orozco. The effort of the Renaissance Society in presenting this exhibition is to be commended, since it means a recognition of a master of the twentieth century.