I've spent some of my last ten years tracking down old (and young) amate painters from Guerrero. They have been memorializing Nahua culture in beautiful and creative ways. Yet Jesus Corpos Aliberto was the one who had escaped me, until yesterday that is (the rest goes under the fold)...
Jesus Corpos, from Ameyaltepec, is a local legend. The story was that he went insane and was holed up in a hotel somewhere in Mexico City, painting brilliant amates, and otherwise sitting in a room talking to himself for the last twenty years. Supposedly he spent each day filling in notebooks with zeros to represent the millions he could have earned from selling his amates. But the people who related those details also told me that crocodiles inhabited the (desert-like) region not long ago, a rabbit lives on the moon, and most of the region’s animals are also sentient gods.
About a week ago, I heard word of Jesus Corpos. An amate merchant from the distant San Pablito (state of Puebla) had told Marcial Camilo that he had delivered some paper to Corpos in Mexico City. Hotel Buenos Aires.
I took a cab to this dingy locale and pushed my way past the locals congregating at the entrance and eating blue corn tortillas. It turns out that Corpos was there, living in a small closet with no light and room for no more than a bed; the stench was overpowering. The hotel owner was putting him up to help out. Upon request, Corpos stepped out of the room with a large roll of amates; from the sight of it the roll had not been opened for five to ten years. He was polite and soft-spoken.
They were in fact remarkable works, but I was unable to meet Corpos’s asking price of 7 million pesos per amate (about $700,000). He told me to return when I had the money. I thanked him profusely and left.