Russian inspiration and Mexican passion

TWO new exhibitions at The Art Stable in Child Okeford draw on distant lands for their inspiration – Peter Archer’s fascination with a Russian artist who was a close friend of the Chekhov, and Jazmin Velasco-Moore who remained very close to her Mexican heritage, despite living in the UK for more than 20 years.

Archer’s exhibition, Discovering a Friendship: Isaac Levitan and Anton Chekhov, which runs to 14th April, notes that Levitan’s work has been neglected in England, although his landscapes were known and admired in Russia.

Chekhov was born at Taganrog, a port on the Sea of Azov which is really part of the Black Sea and so close to Ukraine and the Crimea.

Peter Archer’s paintings are the result of a long search, mixing memory, imagination and a sense of the world with the demands of the painting he is working on. He has lived for several years in rural France, in a landscape he finds deeply attractive, but is aware this has made little difference to “the bank of imagery and memory” he draws on to make his paintings.

Jazmin Velasco Moore was born in 1971 in Guadalajara, Mexico, daughter of a famous political cartoonist Joaquín Velasco and niece of two distinguished masked wrestlers, El Apolo and El Diablo Velasco. This background set her dual approach to life, the artist and the warrior – she became an accomplished martial artist, a black belt practitioner and teacher who saw art and martial art as two aspects of the same thing, the improvement of oneself and of the world around us.

By the age of 18 she was working as a cartoonist in a national newspaper, studied graphic art and illustration and moved to Mexico City where she soon established herself as one of the best-known book illustrators in the country. She moved to London in the year 2000.

Colin Moore says: “Jazmin possessed a formidable talent for drawing, no doubt inheriting the expressive line from her father. She worked fast and never seemed to make a mistake, filling a sketchbook in no time with characters, ideas and stories which would surface later in other media.

“She had clever hands too, a born craftsperson, picking up challenging techniques with no apparent difficulty, moving from one to another with humour and quiet intelligence.

“And then there was that virtue so valuable to the artist. She was fearless. She would relish as much the opportunity to batter men twice her size in the boxing ring as to take on yet another artistic medium. Stone carving for example – she once invited a stone mason to spend a day with her in the studio, bought the tools and spent the next week bashing bits of Portland stone into Mexican gods. Typical Jazmin.”

This exciting and vivid career was all cut short by her tragic and untimely death in 2021. “But those of us who were fortunate enough to know her will cherish her memory as a true example of how an artist should live,” says Colin Moore

Pictured: House, Late Light, and Camper Van in a Rocky Place, by Peter Archer, both oil on canvas; Jazmin Velasco Moore’s Constancy, woodcut and letterpress,