In the studio of Jorge Crespo

The immigrants in the artwork of Jorge Crespo tell a story of identity, humor, humanity and of the fantastic. They come to their new environments in parades like sad circus performers, or in boats with toy like horses and musical instruments. They bring with them symbolic empty cages and wear their wears upon their heads and chests to hide their thoughts. The colors brighten the somber images. The tones and shading of the masked and magical characters emerge from the matrix to tell their stories of an old life in a new place.

Like many of the artists in Costa Rica, Jorge Crespo has his studio located in his home. He tells me about his own history; his family emigrating from Bolivia. We walk through the living room where a few of his paintings occupy the walls. Jorge employs a printmaker’s vision to create the canvases but the scale is that of a muralist at times.

Then we enter the pleasantly lit studio with its printing press, papers, inks and the rich smells of creating art. Over in the corner is a contraption that looks like a homemade science experiment…and it is. Crespo explains to me how he has designed a system to etch electronically his plates for printing without toxic chemicals.

On display are the many prints he has created as a master printmaker for editions designed by other Costa Rican artists. Then he presents an embossed portfolio to show me his etchings. Immigration is still the context of the striking mezzotints, woodcuts and aquatints on thick and thin papers. Sometimes surreal in their bodies and proportions, the characters mimic the immigrants living in his canvases.

I meet Jorge’s lovely wife, Marite; she is an artist also. She creates sensitive prints of feminine genres. I am impressed as well with her work. We talk about a project with a Costa Rican company, Cemaco, which is commemorating Jorge’s work on a line of ceramics. Before I leave, I order portfolios embossed with the Ford Fine Art logo. Jorge gives me a portfolio of his etchings and woodcuts to immigrate to the US for a new life…they are up for adoption now on our website.