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Abstract Art Center in the Woods
 Pensive young painter
Pensive young painter studying art at CIANF

Bertha Gonzalez and painting "Impermanencia"
Guadalajara painter Bertha González with "Impermanencia" which was put on exhibit at the CIANF Abstract Art Gallery in October of 2017

Abstract sculpture in CIANF garden
An abstract sculpture in the CIANF garden.

Happy painter
Proud art student at CIANF.

Francisco Medina at CIANF Abstract Art Gallery
Mexican architect and painter Francisco Medina .

Engraving printer
Pepe Olivares with press for making prints from plywood blocks.

Abstract watercolor
Abstract watercolor.

Astronomer donates books to CIANF research library
Astronomer-Physicist Durruty Jesús de Alba Martínez and Mónica Martínez donate books to the CIANF research library.

Figurative art too
Figurative watercolor by Pepe Olivares.

Young painter
Young painter hard at work.

Working with adults
Pepe Olivares teaches art to both adults and children at the CIANF Abstract Art Center.

The only Abstract Art Gallery in Jalisco, Mexico

By John Pint

Rosy & Pepe Olivares at CIANF Abstract Art GalleryIf you are interested in abstract art and you would like to visit a gallery in western Mexico, don’t waste your time hunting for one in downtown Guadalajara. Instead, head for the woods. Yes, amazing though it may seem, CIANF, Jalisco’s only Center for the Study and Diffusion of Non-Figurative Art is located inside a very large private home in the rustic community of Pinar de la Venta, transformed about a year ago into a gallery and school for abstract art.

CIANF’s founders are architect José “Pepe” Olivares and his wife Rosalía. The Center really took off last 5 de Mayo, 2017, when it hosted an exhibit of archive paintings loaned by Mexico’s most prestigious institute of abstract art, the Museo de Arte Abstracto Manuel Felguérez in the city of Zacatecas.

“We had works by famous artists like Filguérez himself, the Catalans Josep Guinovart and Jordi Boldó, as well as the creator of Guadalajara’s Los Cubitos, sculptor Fernando González Gortázar,” I was told by the Olivares. “People flocked to Pinar de la Venta to see these masterpieces and the TV and newspapers called it a great success.”

Pepe Olivares teaches both realism and abstract.Intrigued, I popped in twice to observe the art lessons Pepe Olivares gives to children and adults every week. That’s where I discovered that, like Picasso, this teacher is just as talented in depicting realism as abstraction. Commented Olivares, “I often start with drawing or painting recognizable subjects like flowers or a landscape and after my students have mastered these basic techniques, we move on to removing elements until only form and color remain.”

I asked one of the adult students, Ana Rosa, how she liked the class. She said, “for me, this is therapy. I forget my children, I forget all my troubles and I relax totally. I really look forward—with great enthusiasm—to coming here every Thursday. I just wish I could do this twice a week.”
After the class, I sat down with Pepe Olivares and asked him how he became interested in abstract art. He immediately told me that his story was “not at all unusual.”

“In my childhood,” Pepe told me, “matches were used a lot, especially for lighting the stove. Well, I was maybe four years old and my father showed me a matchbox which had a reproduction of a famous work of art on its cover. These were called Clásicos de Lujo la Central and my father gave me a challenge: “I bet you can’t draw this,” he said and I replied, “Oh yes, I can!” Right there was my first artistic awakening, you could say.”

I told Pepe that this didn’t seem “usual” to me one bit, but he replied that he had spoken to many of Jalisco’s artists “and most of them told me they got going in exactly the same way.”

Pepe’s gusto for drawing stayed with him and he recalls, “when I was in third grade, they asked us to draw a picture of Miguel Hidalgo. I did mine on a big sheet of pasteboard and I remember the pride I felt at succeeding to do this, even though I suspect my drawing must have been pretty ugly. But with that, I decided that art was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And from then on I drew and drew. This is why I am involved in giving painting classes to children here, because this when a vocation can be born.”

Pepe Olivares’ father was practical enough to convince him he should take up architecture as a career, which he did at the University of Guadalajara. “Among my teachers,” he says, “were people like the German architect Hors Hartung, who knew a lot about preHispanic architecture and also about modern abstract painters and sculptors. His classes were delicious! I learned a lot from him. We had a class with him called ‘Integración Plástica’ which involved aesthetic games, playing with volume. We were not trying to represent anything or to copy anything from nature; it was all about forming pleasing shapes. It was an exercise in abstraction, working only with forms and colors, and it was here that I got my introduction to abstract art.”

The CIANF Center not only plans to hold exhibits and workshops, it also wants to promote research into abstract art present and past, for which “We are working to set up a library here where people of all ages could learn about abstract art, do research and experiment with different techniques. I believe the Olivares would be happy to receive donations of art books for their burgeoning library.

The art gallery features new exhibits on a regular basis and admission is free.. To see what they are offering at the moment, check their “CIANF” Facebook page. If you are interested in taking painting lessons, call 333 616 6242.

How to get there
Take Avenida Vallarta west. Eight kilometers past the Periférico you will see a sign for Pinar de la Venta. Make a U-turn and go into the main entrance of this community, a big square arch. Immediately turn right onto Paseo de las Primaveras and drive about 400 meters to house number 98. In front of the gate you will see a telephone pole clearly marked with a big red 9. Pole nine is an important landmark because house numbers in Pinar are hopelessly jumbled. Driving time from the Periférico: about 15 minutes. And here's the Google Maps link.

Launching abstract art exhibit in October 2017

 Opening of a new art exhibit at CIANF in October of 2017.

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