Original Painting of Buffalo Dancer by Soqween

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José Encarnacion Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

This painting was made by José Encarnación Peña, a San Ildefonso Pueblo artist who is best known as “Soqween” but was often called “Enky”.  His unique and endearing style has remained popular with collectors for many years, and it’s easy to see why.  His dancers are spirited and colorful, with a lively energy that is hard to describe but easy to recognize.

This piece features a single buffalo dancer.  He dances directly toward the viewer, raising his hands.  In one hand, he holds a bow, arrows, and an evergreen bough.  In the other, he holds a rattle.  Soqween selected a palette of bold, opaque paints for this image, amplifying the presence of his dancer with strong applications of casein.  The dancer’s face peers out of his elaborate headpiece, making eye contact with the viewer.  This is a fine example of Soqween’s work.

The painting is signed “Soqween” and titled “Buffalo Dancer” in lower right.  The San Ildefonso Pueblo artist is José Encarnación Peña (1902-1979) Soqween - “So Kwa A Weh” (Frost on the Mountain) The painting is signed Soqween and titled Buffalo Dancer in lower right.  It is framed nicely, under a gray mat in a simple wood frame.

José Encarnación Peña (1902-1979) Soqween - “So Kwa A Weh” (Frost on the Mountain) was painting at San Ildefonso Pueblo at the same time as Tonita Peña, Richard Martínez, Luís Gonzales, Abel Sánchez, and Romando Vigil.  In his early years, he was not as prolific as his peers. It was during the last ten years of his life that he became most productive. He is represented in the collections of the Laboratory of Anthropology, Santa Fe; Museum of New Mexico; Denver Art Museum; and many others.  Though similar in spirit, Soqween’s works are very different from those of his contemporaries.  His works are simple, often using just two or three colors. His outlines, often done in light grey, are less important to his compositions than the thick blocks of bold colors with which they are filled.  These blocks of color are the tools with which he composed his subjects: pueblo dancers, in traditional regalia, often viewed head-on instead of in profile. Soqween’s style is a simple, charming, and unusual variation of the “flat” style that he and his peers were taught at the Santa Fe Indian School.


Condition: excellent condition

Provenance: this Original Painting of Buffalo Dancer by Soqween is from from the collection of a client from Arizona

Recommended Reading: Clara Lee Tanner.  Southwest Indian Painting: a Changing Art 

Relative Links: paintingSan Ildefonso PuebloTonita PeñaRichard MartínezLuís GonzalesAbel SánchezRomando VigilTonita PeñaSanta FeDorothy DunnJosé Encarnacion Peña

Close up view of the face of the buffalo dancer.

José Encarnacion Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter
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