BENAVIDES, HECTOR ALONZO
makes drawings that resemble patterned, woven textiles. Their networks of interwoven lines are organized into patterns that appear to pulsate on paper. For a personwho struggles daily with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the drawings give the artist a measure of control and focus over his thoughts and feelings.Born in Laredo, Texas, Benavides was the youngest of three children in a family with a one-hundred-year history as ranchers. After graduating from high school, hewent to Tyler, Texas, to study optometry. He completed his training, but his father’s death in 1970 drew Benavides back to Laredo, where he took a job as an opticianand moved in with his mother. Diagnosed with OCD, Benavides also developed another physical malady, and he required braces and crutches to walk.During the 1980s Benavides’ family encouraged him to enroll in an art class. While he loved to draw, he was unwilling or unable to adapt to the program, probably because he had already developed a personal artistic vocabulary.Benavides drew with confidence as early as 1963; portraits of people and animal drawings were his first subjects. In time his work became more and more abstract,and the patterned elements increasingly organic. He turned his paper as he worked, obliterating any set position for viewing and unifying his drawings from all vantage points. Precisely lettered, multiple signatures appear on various edges of his work. His palette was colorful in his early drawings, evolved to black with some addedcolor, and then all black; then it became red, white, and blue; and then back to black with color. Bruce and Julie Webb, dealers who discovered, befriended, andrepresent Benavides at their gallery, point out that the artist’s palette is a reflection of his mood.Some of Benavides’ designs are composed of tiny dots, squares, triangles, circles, and lines drawn with an ultra-fine ballpoint pen. The artist, a Catholic, told theWebbs that the triangles represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of the Holy Trinity. The squares make the triangles “stand out,” and he likens the “squares to thecage he lives in with his obsessive-compulsive disorder and the circles as his escape out of his disorder.” Benavides has also told the Webbs, “Through my art, I haveturned a negative into a positive.” He has completed some five to six hundred drawings.
Painting, American Folk
Spirited Journeys: Self-Taught Texas Artists of the Twentieth Century.
Austin, Tex., 1997.Webb, Bruce. “Hector Alonzo Benavides: Bruce Webb Views the Creative Energy of Hector Alonzo Benavides.”
no. 27 (fall 1999): 46–48.
BENAVIDES, HECTOR ALONZO