Cover image for Infinitas gracias : contemporary Mexican votive painting
Infinitas gracias : contemporary Mexican votive painting
Vilchis Roque, Alfredo.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Ex-votos mexicains contemporains. English.
Publication Information:
San Francisco, Calif. : Seuil Chronicle, [2004]

Physical Description:
254 pages : chiefly illustrations (chiefly color) ; 21 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ND1432.M45 R6713 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Infinitas Gracias is the first collection of the work of Alfredo Vilchis Roque, one of Mexico's most famous contemporary painters, and his sons. In the tradition of Catholic votives, each painting tells a miraculous tale and gives thanks to the intervening saint. Ablaze with intense color hearkening back to the natural pigment dyes of ancient Mexico, these works portray the kaleidoscope of issues that constitute modern urban existence. With over 200 paintings, from circus adventures to household accidents to adultery, drugs, and prostitution, Infinitas Gracias weaves together a bizarre tapestry of stories, some disturbing, some comical -- all unerringly wrought and profoundly touching.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Self-taught Mexico City artist Roque has devoted his life to his country's 500-year-old votive-painting tradition. Also called a ret0 ablo, each work is a small narrative painting on sheet metal that records a miracle, that is, an individual's survival of a catastrophe thanks to prayer and divine intervention. Vilchis Roque listens like a priest or therapist to people's stories of enduring natural disasters, betrayal, addiction, depression, and violence (including the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center), then transforms their harrowing, ultimately spiritual experiences into remarkably poignant and candidly captioned scenes of great drama and gritty beauty. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Collecting the intensely moving work of a single Mexico City studio, that of retablo master Roque and his sons, this book offers a deep introduction to a vital art form. Retablo, as Roque interprets it, dramatizes in a commissioned work a life-changing incident in which the hand of a saint guided events, and offers a prayer of thanks, often painted at the bottom, in the client's own words. Roque's patrons are often living on the fringes of society and offer gratitude for events such as being saved from rape in an alley while working as a prostitute, for abandoning one's child and recovering it "in time before he was eaten by dogs," and for not dying when illegally crossing the desert between Mexico and the United States. The prayers have a concise honesty that is irresistible, and Roque matches it with colorful figuration that doesn't waste a stroke, yet has richly realized settings-from streets to fields, cantinas to bedrooms and churches-and conveys a powerful sense of human need and conflict. Divided into short sections ("Parenthood," "Relationships," "Emigration," "Urban Violence" "Illness" and 16 others) that cover more than 30 years of work, the retablos provide a mosaic of Mexico City life. Particularly moving is the "Homosexuality" section, which records complex relationships and negotiations within a largely Catholic society. This varied and beautiful book, with its nearly 200 lushly printed color reproductions, is less "outsider" art than art that is central to the way people live and love. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Infinitas Gracias introduces the retablos by self-taught Mexican artist Alfredo Vilchis Roque and his sons to a wider audience. While most retableros remain anonymous, the Vilchis Roques are acclaimed for their remarkable creations, which have been commissioned by survivors of crimes and misfortune and follow the Catholic votive tradition. More than half of the vibrant popular paintings give thanks to the Virgin of Guadalupe for her intercession on the subject's behalf. Influenced by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, the works here blend traditional Mexican popular art with contemporary themes like homosexuality, emigration, urban violence, adultery, and parenthood. The first eight pages provide biographical information on Vilchis Roque and his family while also introducing the reader to the brief history of the retablo tradition. Subsequent pages present vivid paintings accompanied by an English-language translation of the text describing the milagro, or miracle, depicted. Ceramic Trees of Life is the first sustained analysis of this emblematic object and favored collectible, featuring works from the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. A hybrid indigenous-European tradition depicting all ranges of beliefs and activities on their branches, these trees originally functioned as both a candelabra and an incense burner. The book doubles as an exhibition catalog and a scholarly analysis of the form's meaning and development, containing excellent studio photography to illustrate the detail and brilliant colors of each piece. Two essays discuss the objects' meanings and the effects of a market economy upon their production. The three remaining essays chart the distinctive styles of three villages known for producing trees. Notes, references, and contributor biographies conclude the text. Both books are essential for public and academic libraries with specialized collections in Mexican art.-Rebecca Tolley-Stokes, East Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Johnson City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 6
Forewordp. 9
Self-portraitsp. 18
Prosperityp. 26
Relationshipsp. 36
Natural Disastersp. 50
Parenthoodp. 58
Accidentsp. 70
Illnessp. 86
Prostitutionp. 104
The Circusp. 118
Urban Violencep. 128
Emigrationp. 140
Mexican Historyp. 148
Homosexualityp. 154
The World Beyondp. 164
Sportsp. 172
Alcoholp. 182
Drivingp. 198
Religionp. 208
Rural Lifep. 212
Drowningp. 234
Drugs and Depressionp. 242
Extracts from the Journals of Alfredo Vichis Roquep. 252