Chelo Amezcua: Lush Inner Life in a Dry Border Town

Chelo Amezcua: Lush Inner Life in a Dry Border Town

First published: Winter 2010

The creation of singular identity commands our attention – whether it be the distinctive timbre of a voice, or the signature features of a visual style that is unmistakably itself. Consuelo González Amezcua, born in northern Mexico in 1903, then living from the age of 10 until her death in 1975 in the provincial border town of Del Rio, Texas, was a self-tutored artist whose linear drawings, executed with ordinary ballpoint pens, deserve wider recognition. The unique qualities of her art invite exploration of a life story that reveals a naturally fecund imagination enriched by the complex interplay of cultural traditions along the Mexico–Texas border during the first half of the twentieth century.

 

 

‘Chelo’ Amezcua is the name by which this artist eventually came to be identified in the art world, but to people of all ages in the mixed and Anglo world of Del Rio she was simply Chelo or Chelito, having developed a reputation as a personality long before she was recognised as visual artist even in the local community.
Known for her informal performances – poetry recitations, singing, dancing – and simply as a gregarious local character with a penchant for what most of her friends and family ‘doodling,’ she exhibited a combination of fantasy and curiosity about her own and other cultures informed all her creative modes, but which found its most concentrated and compelling expression in drawings produced during the later years of her life.

Chelo’s taste for ancient history and dramatic stories led her to draw many legendary figures from Mexico, Texas, Spain, the Middle East and Africa. The visual designs of these and other favoured subjects – birds, flowers, museums and palaces, geometric abstractions – are rendered with recurring motifs and a compositional style that is complex, intensely detailed and makes use of arabesque patterns, architectural elements and curvilinear repetition.

Many of her works convey a dream aura of hidden worlds and overlapping dimensions, and she repeatedly incorporates framing and layering devices to create a sense of depth. In addition, her art often communicates a fluid, musical quality, inviting the viewer’s eye to move around the compositional space as in rhythms of dance.

 

This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #71