Artist to Know: Jazzamoart

Liz Catalano
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Morton Subastas Offers Painting by Contemporary Mexican Jazz Artist

For Javier Vázquez Estupiñán, no boundary exists between sound and visual art. The two are part of the same gesture. The Mexican artist felt especially attracted to jazz music when he was young— it was the music of smoky living rooms and pulsing nightlife. Vázquez Estupiñán eventually entered the art world with a name that honored his passion for music, love, and art: Jazzamoart. He has since dedicated his career to capturing the beauty of jazz with a paintbrush. 

Morton Subastas will present one of Jazzamoart’s paintings in its upcoming Modern and Contemporary Art sale. Bidding will begin at 6:00 PM EDT on August 26th, 2021. Before placing a bid, learn more about Jazzamoart’s method and art.

Javier Vázquez Estupiñán (Jazzamoart) in his studio. Image by Notimex/Gustavo Durán/GDH via El Siglo de Torreón.
Javier Vázquez Estupiñán (Jazzamoart) in his studio. Image by Notimex/Gustavo Durán/GDH via El Siglo de Torreón.

Jazzamoart adopted his pseudonym around the age of 20. Before that, Vázquez Estupiñán grew up in an intensely artistic household. His father was a poet who often hosted artists, writers, and cultural figures in Irapuato, Guanajuato. He encountered jazz music outside a club for the first time in the 1960s. The sound fascinated him. Jazzamoart started collecting records obsessively and played them while painting street scenes of Mexico City. 

The energy and spontaneity of bebop particularly inspired Jazzamoart. In the 1940s, swing and big band arrangements still prevailed in jazz circles. The more frenetic bebop style arose to counter this easy listening. Musicians such as Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis created jazz that was improvisational and nervous. Jazzamoart tapped into the energy of bebop while painting. Traces of the 20th century’s mainstream art movements can be found in some of these works. Frantic brushstrokes recall Abstract Expressionism, while the wild features of Jazzamoart’s figure paintings reference Cubism.

Jazzamoart does not associate himself with one style over another. He most often describes his figurative works as “la música pintada,” or painted music. Jazzamoart hopes that the viewer will feel the energy of jazz music while observing his works, even if the room is silent. Occasionally, though, Jazzamoart exhibits are anything but quiet. His paintings appear in the background of jazz performances across Mexico and abroad. Ray Charles and Branford Marsalis have performed in front of Jazzamoart’s paintings, giving the artist a chance to meet his heroes.

Jazzamoart, Noches de Van Gogh, 1990. Image from Morton Subastas.
Jazzamoart, Noches de Van Gogh, 1990. Image from Morton Subastas.

Available in the upcoming Morton Subastas sale is a Jazzamoart painting titled Noches de Van Gogh. Jazzamoart created the 1990 acrylic painting for an exhibition honoring the centennial of Vincent van Gogh’s death. It previously appeared at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. The painting depicts a blue-hued room filled with nearly abstract figure groups. This piece contains clear references to van Gogh’s style. The deep blues and swirled yellow lights that characterize Starry Night shift under Jazzamoart’s hand. In this painting, stars become overhead lamps that reveal a riot of color below. Morton Subastas will offer this piece with an estimate of MXN 150,000 to $250,000 (USD 7,429 – $12,382). 

Though Jazzamoart is an accomplished sculptor, he is best known for his jazz paintings. His fame spread across Latin America in the 1980s. Later, Jazzamoart exhibited in Paris, Helsinki, Oslo, Madrid, and New York. Other themes and sources of inspiration entered his work in the 1990s. Jazzamoart started to include traditional Mexican craft motifs, masks, bullfighting, and soccer imagery.

Jazzamoart, Inventor de ruidos, 1987. Image from Morton Subastas.

Jazzamoart has a robust collecting market in Mexico. As more auction houses have embraced online bidding platforms, the artist’s influence has expanded rapidly. Morton Subastas brought several of Jazzamoart’s works to market in recent years. The auction house set Jazzamoart’s public auction record in 2017 with the sale of Inventor de ruidos. This oil on canvas shows a fractured Cubist figure with two outstretched arms. The portrait of the ‘noise inventor’ sold for MXN 220,000 (USD 10,980). Since 2014, average prices for Jazzamoart’s artworks have ranged from USD 2,000 to $10,000. 

Jazzamoart still creates art, though at a slower pace than in his younger years. He also works to restore and update old paintings that have been affected by dust and time. Many of these restored paintings are destined for universities, cultural centers, and museums in Mexico. After spending decades in the art world, Jazzamoart still maintains that art is one of the best things humans have given to the world. He told Milenio in 2017: “For me, especially in these times, art is a salvation. Art saves us, makes us better.”

The Noches de Van Gogh painting by Jazzamoart will come to auction with Morton Subastas on August 26th, 2021. This live sale starts at 6:00 PM EDT. Find the complete auction catalog on Bidsquare

Auction Daily regularly explores the work of modern and contemporary artists. Check out our recent coverage of Chicana photographer Laura Aguilar.

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James Ardis
James Ardis
Senior Writer and Editor

James Ardis is a writer, editor, and content strategist focused on the auction industry. His company, James Ardis Writing, has partnered with auction houses, galleries, and many clients outside the art world.

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