José Antonio Velásquez is the most important painter that Honduras has seen. José Antonio Velásquez was born on the 8th of February of 1906 in a small town called Caridad in the south west of the country, near the border with El Salvador.
Velásquez lived in Caridad until his parents died, moving to the north coast of the country to look for work. At that time the north coast had many foreign companies investing in banana plantations. In 1930, he moved to Tegucigalpa and learned the trade of telegrapher. After learning this trade, he was offered a job and had to move San Antonio de Oriente, a town located at 30 km from the capital Tegucigalpa.
He fell in love with this town; he got married there in 1931 to Raquel Maradiaga and had 6 children. San Antonio de Oriente became his inspiration for most of his art work. After a few years he stopped working in the Post Office and started working as a barber, where he dedicated some of his time to painting as a hobbie, inspired in San Antonio de Oriente’s beauty.
José Antonio Velásquez is considered the first primitivism painter in America. His reputation began to spread and he was invited by the King of Spain to promote his work in that country. Afterwards, he would make several other expositions in the United States, Costa Rica, Mexico, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Colombia and Cuba.
His paintings were extremely deatiled and this style has its sources in spontaneous paintings of primitive man and also to children drawings. His work is similar to the French painter Lois Vivin, who painted Paris’ buildings brick by brick. The same style can be appreciated in Velazques paintings where you can see the roof tiles painted one by one, the hills where you can count the pine trees, dogs in the street and people occupied in their daily chores.
José Antonio Velásquez died on the 14th of February, 1983 leaving one incomplete painting.