Jose Mijares

JOSE MIJARES – Born, 1921 – Havana, Cuba. Death, 2004 – Miami, Fl.

Jose Maria Mijares began his artistic studies in 1936, at the School of Art of San Alejandro in Havana, where his professors included Romanach, Menocal, Valderrama, Ramon Loy, Caravia among others. Mijares credits one of his most influential professors, Ponce with helping him develop his own style of expression.

José Mariá Mijares left Cuba but Cuba never left Mijares. “In my subconhscious there is an inner landscape that is Cuba. Since I was exiled at an older age, that landscape cannot be erased.” The painter has stated in an interview in 2001. Indeed, the images of his native country blossomed frequently on his canvases. Mijares is world renowned for his mastery of oil painting and his pioneering exploration of geometric abstraction in Cuban art of the 1950s; which led to his neo-baroque compositions developed during his exile period out of Cuba. His influential career placed him in the company of Carlos Enríquez, René Portocarrero, Cundo Bermúdez who have become known as the Havana School.
BACKGROUND
His first major showing was in 1944, at a national exhibition in Havana’s Capital building. There, he won second prize with a painting titled La Alameda, (The Boulevard). His style at the time was figurative but in the 1950’s changed to his signature style, which he referenced as “concrete forms.” The arts scene during the 50’s was grim, he recalled in an interview, “There were no galleries, they all went broke. The only places where one could exhibit were the Fine Arts Circle and the Lyceum Lawn Tennis Club.” Despite these hindrances, Mijares continued to procure a reputation that would lead to world-wide recognition.
Career Highlights
Mijares taught for 2 years in San Alejandro after his win at the national exhibition. He resigned when Fidel Castro came to power and ultimately left Cuba in 1968, establishing himself in Miami. His geometric style then changed in its new surroundings. “I went back to figurative painting: people and landscapes.” he’s stated. A prolific painter, even during his waning years, Mijares worked six hours a day, beginning at sunrise daily. He resided in Miami since 1968 until his death.
Awards
Florida International University awarded him an honorary doctorate in fine arts in December, 2001.
GROUP EXHIBITS
1944 – Grand National Salon, Havana Cuba
1950 – Grand National Salon, Cuba * Numerous group shows during the 1950’s
1950 – Museum of Modern Arts, Paris France
1950 – National Museum of Venezuela, Caracas Venezuela
1950 – National Museum of Haiti, Port au Prince
1950 – National Museum of Venezuela, Caracas Venezuela
1953 – Biennial of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo Brazil
1964 – Cuban Prints Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan
1966 – Silkscreen edition of Flores issued, Havana Cuba
1968 – Ten Cuban Painters, Pan American Union, Washington D.C.
1976 – Retrospective of Cuban Painting, Miami, FL
1978 – Latin American Artists, Lower Art Museum, Miami, FL
1987 – Latin American Treasures Center for the Fine Arts in Miami, Miami, FL
1987 – Outside Cuba, a travelling exhibition, Office of Hispanic Arts, Rutgers University, NJ