JOSE PINA MORALEZ, A Universal Phenomenon

Por: Edward Rueda

5, July, 2022 en Business Concept

A Universal Phenomenon

by Geraldine Zialcita

The interface between points, lines, angles, shapes, and surfaces with vibrant colors equates to renowned artist Jose Luis Piña Moralez’s world―figments of his imagination, bursting with character, and producing a distinct rhythm, while he echoes the strokes in his canvas to deliver power, impact, and synergy.

Jose was born and raised in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico. At ten years old, Jose shared a deep fondness for the arts. He enrolled in an after-school program at El Centro Del Seguro which taught him the different fundamentals of art. “Aside from art classes, the program offered music, theater, and design which allowed us to demonstrate our creativity,” he shares.

In his after-school program, his maestro lent Jose a book by artist, Jose Luis Cuevas that sparked a wider appreciation for art. Jose also took interest in the works of Canadian-Mexican artist, Arnold Belkin. “I admired their styles which deeply resonated with me and helped shape my career as an artist,” he relays.


Aside from these notable artists, Jose draws inspiration from classic, professional, and budding artists who share their own ingenuity in their art. His style has been compared to Picasso’s Cubism. However, understanding that each artist deserves to discover their unique voice to express creativity, Jose integrated his knowledge, talent, and craft to encompass his signature style―a fusion of Mexican and African Heritage―a celebration of vibrant colors and shapes— Geometric Surrealism. Parallel to learning the principles of art, Jose gravitates toward nature, embracing its harmony which enables him to convey art in its highest form.

At seventeen years old, Jose possessed a clear goal and dedication to enriching his craft. He pursued a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts degree (lic. En artes plásticas) from 1972-1978 at the Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura, y Grabado ‘La Esmeralda’ in Mexico City that is affiliated with the Institute of Bella’s Artes in Mexico City. “During that time, going to Mexico felt like I was traveling to the sky―so near yet, so far. Nevertheless, I learned more about the culture, composition, creativity, and coloring with quality, while taking each art form as a priceless possession which should never be commercialized,” he imparts.

After graduating from the university in 1978, Jose worked at the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico City and became the Director of Cultural Centers throughout the Mexican Republic. “I learned to be a maestro―a master of my craft.” He smiles.

In 1981, with a strong desire to spread his wings, Jose traveled to Chicago as a tourist and decided to make the windy state his new home. “Adjusting to a different culture, learning a new language, and not having family around proved to be quite challenging for me, but I kept a steady focus on my goal of being a renowned artist around the globe,” he states.

Like most immigrants, Jose shares the same sentiments about his humble beginnings and how he started his life in a new country which led him to achieve the American dream. “I painted inside a closet and nobody knew who I was. When people learned I was a Mexican artist, they immediately stereotyped me as a Mexican artisan, but once they saw my work, my art spoke for itself, gaining the respect and recognition of being a maestro. Being recognized and honored as an artist opened numerous opportunities to exhibit my work in shows, museums, and collective art galleries around Mexico and America.” He beams with pride.

Jose has five children and two of them bare his artistic traits from different angles―one is a photographer and the other one composes Euro-pop music. As his clientele grew, Jose opened a studio/art gallery in 1989 at the Pilsen district of Chicago to feature his artwork and other artists. “My purpose for launching this gallery was to provide an open space where creatives can feel inspired and connected with one another,” he conveys.


Operating a gallery was a different ballgame for Jose who stems from a creative background. He used his entrepreneurial hat to oversee the business which did not only comprise income and revenues but pitfalls and setbacks as well. The gallery flourished for three decades and also showcased budding and established artists―musicians, fine artists, and theater actors. Through his gallery, Jose also discovered a way to reach out and connect with the youth especially those who were involved in gangs. “I invited them to the gallery to determine if they were interested in the arts and prevent them from engaging in gang fights in the streets. I encouraged them to unleash their talent, find a deeper purpose, and maintain mutuality. This rendered a transformation from chaos to tranquility. The gallery equated to a space of freedom, peace, and unity among all artists who served to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” he narrates.

Jose embraces art in all forms, specifically, painting, lithography, engraving, linotype, intaglio, mixcolography, and other graphic media. He grasped every style, technique, and vocabulary of art to communicate on a deeper level. At the lab, Jose also learned how to prepare oil and define its texture. His earlier paintings were composed of oil, but as he evolved in his career, acrylics served to be his preference.

While each artist has a unique methodology for executing their work, there is no formula and no parameters to what they can create. Jose navigates through an intricate process, establishing the roots to develop a strong foundation for his art piece. Like an onion, Jose’s paintings consist of layers waiting to be unpeeled, beginning with a sketch and not knowing what the actual outcome will be. Although his sketch may appear like an actual painting, Jose uses this as a base—a framework of possibilities. The core of the painting is composed of colors that Jose mixes to produce stronger shades. It can take eight months to a year to complete a painting and Jose dabbles between one to two paintings at a time. Yet, once the painting is done, you’ll witness a phenomenon―that WOW moment that takes you out of reality.

Oblivious to his surroundings, Jose gets lost in the depth of his soul, deriving concepts and ideas from inspirations that he discovers. “Each painting has a story to tell, a personalized fragment of my imagination and never mass-produced. As a student of the arts, I was trained to conduct a linear form of painting, but after gaining more exposure and experience, I developed my own style. Everything starts with white lighting followed by my idea or concept which evolves. I’m not aware of the direction it takes me, but there is a composition where I trace and color—I combine colors to achieve my own shades. I examine the symmetry until I reach the golden point. Art for me is a work in progress and the outcome always surprises me,” he describes.


His most sought-after paintings are the following:

Las comadres punk, 4×6 acrylic/canvas

El diablito del universo, one panel of 4×6, acrylic/canvas

Metamorphosis of a Cockroach, three panels 12 x 6, acrylic/canvas

“The metamorphosis of a cockroach signifies they are an important element of our planet. I dramatized a unique and positive approach of what we Mexicans would call La Cucaracha.” He winks.

In 1974, Jose exhibited his artwork in El Palacio De Las Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Between 1989-2019, Jose served as the Director of Mestizarte, Casa de la Cultura/Galeria Carlos Cortez. Jose won the 2012 Indio Beer Billboard contest. To date, Jose’s artworks are displayed in galleries and museums in Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico; Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico; Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico; Mexico DF, Mexico; and Chicago. Jose has also showcased his artwork in Paris and is featured with all the prominent artists in the book 50 años de pintura mexicana which was published in the 70s.

Despite all his success, Jose faced many challenges from adapting to the American lifestyle, dealing with egoistic clients and huge galleries who preferred commercial art, to discrimination against his race and capability as an artist. “I stayed true to myself, my tradition, and never compromised my craft. This is also the main reason why I opened my gallery to provide a fostering environment for artists offering no limitations and allowing them to be authentic with their work and purpose,” he says.

After three decades of overseeing his gallery in Chicago, Jose welcomed a season of new beginnings. In 2013, he met Catalina, the love of his life who happened to be working at a university in California. While she attended a conference in Chicago, Catalina stumbled upon Jose’s gallery and hoped to see some artworks. “The gallery was locked so I decided to take selfies of the altar of the artist, Frida Kahlo. Shortly after, a man stepped outside and asked me if I wanted to come inside. I was thrilled and stepped inside the premises admiring the artworks, not realizing he was the artist,” Catalina laughs.

They had dinner at a nearby restaurant and when Catalina flew back to California, they exchanged messages on Facebook. Although their communication was merely platonic, Catalina knew they shared a mutual attraction. Catalina continued to admire Jose’s work from a distance to keep the connection alive. Fast forward to 2019, Jose expressed interest in wanting to know Catalina more, and this time, he made the bold move of taking their friendship to the next level. Fearing the relationship might not work due to their geographic distance, Jose vowed to give up everything to be with Catalina. On March 10, 2019, Jose closed his gallery and bid Chicago goodbye, then flew to Tracy, California. They got married twenty days later.

Now residing in Tracy, California, Jose finds joy in the vast nature and space. He spends his leisure time traveling with his wife and searching for succulent cacti nursery. “Being surrounded by cactus feels like I’m in a Mexican desert.” He smiles.

Since Jose is well-known in Chicago, Oaxaca, and Mexico, he plans on returning to his roots in Acapulco so he can spread the word and encourage people about the importance of art and their heritage. “I left Acapulco during my teens. My advocacy is to promote art in my hometown where there seems to be no progression,” he voices out.

As a generous promoter of the arts, Jose hopes to spearhead a cultural center in Tracy where he can give back to the community. He continues to paint daily because for him, he eats, lives, and breathes art in every way. “An artist should always dwell on his craft, whether at times, the art may appear silly or not make sense, just keep going because you’ll discover that great stories often originate from mundane and senseless things. This is part of your journey and experience,” he concludes.

With a canvas and paintbrush, Jose Luis Piña Moralez uses his magic to unravel the mystery beneath his perception manifesting A Universal Phenomenon.