Torme by Jose Lopez Vergara

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Jose Lopez Vergara



65 x 105 cm | 25 1/2 x 41 1/4 in

Oil on canvas

  • Honorable Mention / Fully From Life

I made this painting when I moved to my grandfather's village in Burgos, Spain. After many childhood memories in this place, I came back to an old house where no one had been for many years. My grandfather died in 2016, and since then I have been thinking about his life and how it has inspired me to be the person I've always wanted to be. His name was Rafael Lopez, and he was born in Torme, Burgos. At 18 he left his parents and his three brothers to travel to Mexico in search of a better life for him and his family.  

In his teenage years, he was a musician and played the accordion at every party in his village and its surroundings.  In his house, my great grandparents had a bar where they organized all kinds of parties; they had a little cinema and a bowling alley which made the bar a favorite amongst the villagers. My family has always been hardworking and humble, and after some generations, it is something that clearly runs through our veins.

 As expected, but not before a couple of failures, Rafael had a successful business and started to raise a family in Mexico City.  After some years he came back to his beloved village and bought a beautiful house, the same place where I'm living today and where the painting was done. For me, this composition represents the fragile space of time between life and death. It also represents wealth, pleasure and knowledge, and how none of that matters if it's not used or enjoyed with a good heart.

If I start to imagine, I can also see the journey he had to make across the ocean by ship, the fruits of his land, the beautiful sound of the birds singing in the morning. Some of the objects only served to balance the composition and yet it was not hard to find a meaning for them. It is amazing how a few mundane objects acquire meaning and tell a story when you try to describe the admiration and love for someone that no longer exists. It is magical to me how only a vague memory can keep my grandfather alive and well in my mind.