The home of Jorge Martínez – the founder of the University of Guadalajara Art School – is right in the heart of downtown, but the moment we stepped inside, we left the noise of the city behind and found ourselves in an amazing wonderland where every wall and corner was filled with marvels, with no end of artistic treasures, all collected or created by the artist himself.
Our guide was no one less than the artist’s great niece, Josefina “Pina” Camarena, who told us that Martínez not only lived in the house, but had also been born here, in 1916. At the age of 19, soon after he had joined a group called the Young Painters of Jalisco, who should come along but José Clemente Orozco. The iconic Mexican artist reviewed the work the group was doing and liked Martínez’s paintings so much that he invited him to help paint the murals he was undertaking at the University of Guadalajara and Hospicio Cabañas. At the same time, Martínez – despite his age – was much in demand as a teacher and was delighted when the rector of the university gave him carte blanche to start an art school, which prospered and continues to prosper today.
Although Martínez assisted Orozco in many murals, he really loved working in front of an easel and from the 1970s until his death in 2011, he dedicated himself to painting with pyroxylin, an industrial paint. He soon acquired a reputation, and when King Juan Carlos of Spain came to Mexico, the government presented him with a work which Jorge Martínez had painted especially for the king. After that, Martínez was much sought after to paint portraits of politicians.