Vicente Telles is a Santero (painter of saints) and Cultural Iconographer who is driven by the desire to honor the culture and traditions of his native New Mexico. He began painting traditional retablos (saints on carved wood) using natural pigments created from clays and minerals on homemade gesso, which is then sealed with pinon sap varnish.
Always looking for ways to push boundaries, his style has evolved to include various reinterpretations of traditional Catholic iconography, which is evident in his comic style Santos. His experimentation with different mediums such as textiles, high quality paper(s), found and repurposed materials are used to create more contemporary pieces.
To Telles being a Santero and Cultural Iconographer is so much more than painting; “being a Santero and Cultural Iconographer means being a teacher, a student, and an observer of tradition and maker of the contemporary.” In this way, his Santos and contemporary pieces transcend religion, allowing Telles to do his part to keep his heritage and centuries of tradition alive and vibrant.
Telles’ work can be found in private and public collections both in the United States and abroad.
Telles returns to Santa Fe for Convergence: Of Time and Place, a new solo show at the Canyon Road space based both in his collaborative efforts as an artist, his ingrained memories and a contemporary take on the role of the santero.
“I’m coming up on my third year in Traditional Spanish Market, and I buck the rules,” he says. “For two years, I’ve been told that I need to do this, do that. But how do you preserve something without moving it forward?”