PrensaLibre.com the News paper in Guatemala describes him as "The Master of Light"
By Lucia Herrera
" Antigua Guatemala was his dream before he ever seen it, and came to the town for the first time when he was 20 years, in 1938. He fell in love with the town and in 1976 moved in, and have painted even the most hidden places".
José Luis Álvarez was born in the City of Guatemala in (June3rd) 1917; when he was 14 he was in a workshop of commercial painting, and at 15 he starts his artist studies in the University of Fine Arts (Escuela de Bellas Artes.) Some of his teacher Masters were Humberto Garavito, Enrique Acuña and Tejeda Fonseca, among others. From that point in his work he has been recognized as one of the best landscape artist that Guatemala has ever have, mostly from the colonial city.
“I used to dream of Antigua and Quetzaltenango. I came for the first time to Antigua in 1938 and came many times afterwards to paint it, but came to be closer to it when I came to work hired by the arkbishop to San Juan el Obispo, and in 1976, after the earthquake , I came to live here, and brought my workshop of image restorations", says José Luis Álvarez, who studied restoration with UNESCO, this specialty of his career led him to do many important jobs in restauration, wood sculpting and gold leaves on wood for churches and private parties.
He's got the gift of light
The photo journalist Ricardo Mata commented: “Mr. José Luis is the landscapists of Antigua or Antiguan Paint Artist, although he was not born in Antigua, was one of the first Landscapist who came out to paint the streets of the Colonial city”.
In the beginning he used to go around the streets on bicycle, but later on he bought a moped Honda. "It was very charming to watch him on it, he used to seat on it every day to paint, he used to seat on it and placed his canvas on an easel covered with a beach umbrella".
“For me, Antigua has been favorable and friendly, its people had estimulated me mostly, they are very special" commented Jose Luis A'lvarez.
The book Artistic Jewels of the Bank of Guatemala-(Joyas artísticas del Banco de Guatemala) it says "The Master teacher has been recognized for his constant dedication to the landscape and natural eco system of Guatemala, of the impressionist style. His work translates to his interest of the chromatic harmony, the definition of themes and the objectivity of the pictorial language. He has ignored the changes that were constant of the art through the years on the 20th Century, staying permanently on his personal style on the serenity of the artistic world" because one of his mostly known painting "El Corte del Cafe" (The Harvesting of Coffee) is on the the back of the Q50.00 quetzales bill. "I used to work for the bank, "Banco de Guatemala" doing restoration and framing of paintings and they asked me to do this painting for them", says Jose Luis A'lvarez.
The art critic Guillermo Monsanto comments that "the most important characteristics of the Master's paintings is the way he captures the light. If he goes out to paint at 10 in the morning he will be back the next morning at the same time, until he finishes it, this way he will captures all the colors on his paintings: he is careful in all the details".
About the color comments Mata: "The transparency that he gives to his oil paintings is impressed. They look like water colors, the softness of his work haven't been imitated by any one is his uniqueness".
Although Jose Luis Álvarez didn't evolved over the events that happened on the 20th Century, his work have not created controversy, to the contrary his style has survived invariable changes of his light technique.
Among his favorite places in Antigua, is the streets Calle de los Pasos, Vía Paquita, El Calvario and the ruins Ruinas de San Jerónimo. “In Antigua, anywhere you stand you may look anything good to paint" says the Master Teacher
Throughout his career he has been homage with a diversity of awards and recognitions, among the ones he most remembers are: A second place on the November Art Exposition, Three first places, in other times in Quetzaltenango.
Because of his "charming attitude" says Monsanto, the Artist had been appreciated and respected in the Art world and by collectors.
Mata adds: “He is a very humble person, humble when he talks and expresses himself. He is not arrogant, he is a man with all the gifts God gave him, the reason why we all love him"
At present, with more than 90 years of age and some health problems, Mr. Jose Luis A'lvarez still has been seen painting his canvases on the streets of Antigua. At the moment of that he was interviewed for this article he was painting jacarandas that are on the old Compañía de Jesús, something he conciders a gift. "I thank God to permit me live in Antigua, I am in love with it".