José Colaj (1959-2011)
José Colaj was born in Comalapa Chimaltenango, the cradle of naive artists of Guatemala. His work is contemporary, his subject matter the tribulations of the hard working people of Guatemalan highlands and their social struggle. The earth tones, the intense orange and reds emulate the colors of the soil of the town in which he was raised and the costumes of his people.
A survivor himself of the civil war in Guatemala and informally recording the historical memory of the country, Colaj´s paintings are poetic renditions of the funeral rituals that go hand in hand with the denouncement of the injustices and violence of the war. The images of these rituals, welcome pain, despair and loneliness, and are not only are signs of solidarity towards his people but also put a transcendental value to their collective tragedy.
During his short life as an artist, he had numerous and successful one man shows. Some of the series he produced are entitled “Eternal Vigil”, “Re-encounter”, “Dreams and Hopes”, “Roots”, all of them allusive to the experiences lived during the civil war some of the Maya people. His works can be found in private collections in Guatemala and abroad.