San Ildefonso Pueblo Painting of Kneeling Koosa Clown by Soqween

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José Encarnacion Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter

This painting from early San Ildefonso Pueblo artist José Encarnación Peña is most atypical.  Those who are familiar with his work will notice immediately that this piece varies from Peña’s norm.  His works are charmingly primitive, and usually include multiple figures completed using thick, broad blocks of color.  This piece focuses in on just one figure, and includes quite a bit more detail than usual. Peña’s subject here is a single koosa clown.  He’s kneeling, with his body pictured in profile and his head turned towards the viewer. Peña handled his subject’s potentially challenging positioning with skill.  The clown’s facial expression is intense and energetic; he engages fully with the viewer of this beautiful and unusual painting. Its shape—a perfect square, something we don’t often see in pueblo images—works in its favor, positioning the clown in the image’s center.

Artist Signature - José Encarnación Peña, Soqween (Frost on the Mountain)The painting is signed, titled and dated in lower right: “Koshare Dancer, Soqween, 1975.”  It is framed under acrylic and without matting in a tasteful brown frame.

The earliest known pueblo painters lived and worked at San Ildefonso Pueblo in the 1920s. Among them were Tonita Peña, Richard Martinez, Luís Gonzales, Abel Sánchez, Romando Vigil and Encarnación Peña. José Encarnación Peña (1902-1979) Soqween was a lesser-known member of this group. He was not very productive during the early years, but became more prolific later in life. Peña’s works are typical traditional pueblo paintings in certain regards—his figures dominate the otherwise blank paper. They are included in many prominent collections around the country. Today, his works are collectible; they are quite different from those of his peers and are appreciated for their unique qualities.

Condition: good condition with a stain in lower left

Provenance: From the estate of the artist, passed to his widow and then to her grandson, the current owner.

Recommended Reading:  American Indian Painting of the Southwest and Plains Areas by Dorothy Dunn (1903-1992)

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

Close up view

José Encarnacion Peña, San Ildefonso Pueblo Painter
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