Brown Bear with Fish by Manuel Jimenez (1919-2005), Mexico
Brown Bear with Fish, c. 1990 by Manuel Jimenez (1919-2005) in collaboration with his sons Angelico and Isaias Jimenez
San Antonio Arrazola, Oaxaca, Mexico copal wood, pigment 9.5” high x 18” long x 9.5” deep hand signed underneath
Manuel Jiménez Ramírez, who lived into his 80’s until his death in 2005, is credited as the originator of the woodcarving genre of folk art in San Antonio Arrazola, Oaxaca, and derived great satisfaction from his popularity with collectors all over the world.Dignified, hard-working and proud, Manuel was best known for his animals, angels, shepherds, kings and Christ figures, pieces bold in shape, size and painting style. To distinguish himself from the carvers who came after him, his later work was in the finer Guatemalan cedar, rather than local copal wood.
Jiménez Ramírez is credited with creating the Oaxacan version of “alebrijes.” The original craft was created and promoted by the Linares family in Mexico City, making fantastic creatures of “cartonería” (a hard paper mache) and painting them in bright colors. The Oaxaca version is made of wood, and Jiménez Ramírez also often added hair and beards made of ixtle. The artisan never taught his techniques outside his own family.
The artisan’s work can be found in public and private collections around the world, including The British Museum, Museum of International Folk Art,The Fowler Museum at UCLA, and The San Antonio Museum of Art to name but a few. He was named a “grand master” of Mexican folk art by Mexico’s Fomento Cultural in 2001.