José Jorge Oramas (1911−35) was an artist of Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands of Spain. Oramas died young from tuberculosis, and only 70 of his paintings survive. Most are depictions of Canary landscapes and are full of light conveyed through vivid color and intense clarity. Risco (Cliff) shown here is a typical example. The orange, white, and blues impart dynamism to this simple horizontal composition. The sharply perpendicular palm trunks connecting the land and sky add to the sense of space and perspective. Gran Canaria’s vegetation of cactus and palm trees, the angled contours of local buildings, sea, and sky, and the island people are recurring motifs in Oramas’s paintings. He also depicted the privileged areas of Las Palmas, such as Tirajana, Tafira, and Marzagan, and, near the end of his life, the San Nicolás and San Roque cliffs visible from his hospital room. Oramas was one of a generation of Canarian artists of the Luján Pérez school that included Rafael Clarés, Juan Márquez, Santiago Santana, Felo Monzón, and Juan Ismael. Their painting was informed by indigenismo (nativism, meaning a concentration on pre-Hispanic forms) and the magical realism described by German art critic Franz Roth. Spanish art theoretician Eduardo Westerdahl, editor of Gaceta de arte (Art gazette), was another influence on this group of artists in the early to mid-1930s. This painting is in the collections of the Atlantic Center of Modern Arts, in Gran Canaria.

Last updated: June 13, 2016