Untitled Painting of a Hunter by Abel Sanchez of San Ildefonso Pueblo [SOLD]


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Abel Sanchez, Oqwa Pi, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

This buffalo hunt painting was created by one of the earliest San Ildefonso Pueblo painters: Oqwa Pi (Able Sanchez) of San Ildefonso Pueblo. Oqwa Pi had little formal training—a few classes at the Santa Fe Indian School—but received no other instruction. He painted in a style that might be called “naïve”, a style developed by Indians without formal instruction. He experimented successfully with figure arrangement and action in a way that very few of his peers even attempted. Dorothy Dunn’s  American Indian Painting of the Southwest and Plains Areas provides an excellent description of Oqwa Pi’s abilities: “His paintings exhibit a fresh immediacy in color and movement of true aboriginal art: A wonderful simplicity, combined with the depth derived from that conventionalism which is the expression of ancient race experience.”

Oqwa Pi’s paintings never last long on the walls of Adobe Gallery—they tend to be claimed very quickly, as they’re not often available on the market.  The viewer of this charming painting will understand exactly why Oqwa Pi’s works are so popular with our collectors. Here, we see a hunter facing two buffalo, loading an arrow into his bow.  One buffalo is running away, the other is flat on its back. Each of these figures is composed in an exceptionally expressive fashion. Oqwa Pi’s works are, as mentioned by Dunn, fairly simple, but their simplicity works in their favor.  Here, his subjects are defined by thin black outlines, which use little detail or variation. This is no slight, though; as his looser, more primitive style is strong and appealing. Dunn summed up Oqwa Pi’s charm succinctly when she mentioned his works’ “fresh immediacy in color and movement.”

Artist Signature - Abel Sanchez, Oqwa Pi - Kachina StickThe painting is signed Oqwa Pi in lower right.  It is framed in a simple wood frame.

Abel Sanchez (1899-1971) Oqwa Pi - Kachina Stick was a painter from San Ildefonso Pueblo.  He painted in the traditional flat depictions in vogue at the Santa Fe Indian School of the period. There are no ground planes, nor are there any background plants or features. He faithfully depicted the costuming of the figures, providing a detailed record of the clothing worn during the period. He started painting as early as age 20, or around 1919.  Sanchez was eight times Governor of San Ildefonso Pueblo and a farmer. Eventually, he earned enough from sales of his paintings to support a very large family. His works were exhibited at the Milwaukee Art Institute, Yale University, Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Stanford University, and the Gallery of Fine Arts in Muskegon, Michigan. The fresh color, action and great simplicity of his paintings made them well-received in all these exhibits.

Condition:  Slight marks and discolorations are visible, from the painting having been framed using cardboard and non-archival mats.  These materials have been replaced.

Provenance: from an Oklahoma collector

Recommended Reading: Dunn, Dorothy.  American Indian Painting of the Southwest and Plains Areas, University of New Mexico Press, 1968

Relative Links: Russell SanchezSan Ildefonso PuebloNative American PaintingsAbel Sanchez

Close up view of the hunter.

Abel Sanchez, Oqwa Pi, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter
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