Artist:José Benitez Sanchez Title:Hunting the Sacred Deer Location: Nayarit, Mexico, Date: 2008 Media: Yarn pressed into beeswax on plywood Size: 24" x 24"
Benitez was the subject of Mythic Visions: Yarn Paintings of a Huichol Shaman, the dazzling 2003 exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The paintings reflect the visions of Huichol shamans - Huichol history and mythology and especially the peyote-inspired visions through which they believe they can communicate with the deities to heal themselves and their world. At Indigo Arts we have featured the work of José Benitez Sanchez and other Huichol artists for many years. In October and November 2005, Indigo Arts showcases this work with the exhibition Visions to Heal the World(October 7th to November 27th, 2005). José Benitez Sanchez was born in 1938 in the settlement of San Pablo, where his father was a famous mara’akáme. Benitez credits his own path as a shaman to a revelation following an illness when he was fifteen, after which he set off on his first pilgrimage to Wirikuta. Benitez pursued the dual paths of shaman and artist almost from the start, and has been recognized as a master since the 1970’s. He pioneered a style of fluid figures in compositons which are dynamic, complex, and colorful to the point of being psychedelic. His success as an artist coincided with his growing stature in his own community. He helped found the indigenous community of Tsitákua, and was elected its first tatoani, or governor. Benitez’ work has been exhibited world-wide, and is included in many private and public collections. In addition to the substantial collection which was exhibited at the University of Pennsylvania his work is included in the collection at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. We regret that José Benitez Sanchez passed away on July 2nd, 2009. He had been ill for some time, and recently suffered some serious injuries.