|Drawing for Southwest Pieta
Luis Jiménez was born in Texas and grew up working with his father at the family's neon sign shop. Together they made neon flamenco dancers and men wearing sombreros for store fronts all over town. Luis then studied architecture and art at the University of Texas at Austin and received his BFA in 1964.
In the 1960s, he went to New York to work as an artist, during a period when “high” art was being transformed by popular culture, an approach that came naturally to him. After two exhibitions in New York's Graham Gallery, he returned to the Southwest in 1971. There he began to use subjects that evoke the region and his Mexican heritage.
In this drawing Luis tells the legend of the tragic Aztec lovers Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl, who are immortalized as twin volcanoes that today dominate Mexico City. It's a story similar to that of Romeo and Juliet in European literature—the tender tragic innocence of young love.
According to the Aztec legend, Popocatepetl wanted to marry the Princess Ixtaccihuatl, but first he had to earn his warrior feathers in battle. On his triumphant return, Popo finds that Ixta, believing he had died in battle, killed herself. Grieving, he takes her lifeless body to the highest mountains in Mexico so that the snowflakes would awaken her. But she never revives and they both remained frozen, forming the silhouettes of the two famous snow-covered volcanoes.
By calling this study Southwest Pieta and showing a mourner holding someone who has just died, Luis also evokes the Christian image of the mourning Virgin holding the dead Christ. Like many of his subjects, this one reflects traditions of Catholic representation. Luis himself, however, was raised in a strict Protestant environment.
See more works in our collection by this artist »