Juan and Miguel Leon Cortes

Los Gemelos de Chichicastengo – While in Chichicastenango, Guatemal I was fortunate to obtain the artistic service of Miguel (below, right) and Juan Leon Cortez (below left), twin brothers who could (by their names at least) possibly be descendants of Don Juan Cortés (a 14 th generation direct descendant of the kings burned alive in Utatlán by Alvarado in 1524).

Born in Chichicastenango in 1976, Miguel and Juan have become well-known local artists specializing in Kiché themes. They began their self-taught study of drawing and painting at an early age under the inspiration of their nahual indicative of wisdom and power. The artistic talent of the twins was first revealed to the outside world in 1994 when they were seen by visitors from Europe and the United States in their small studio in Chichicastenango.

In 1999, while giving art classes (sponsored by the ADESGA Institute) to local children, they were visited by an associate of the Guggenheim Foundation that was greatly impressed not only with their instruction; but also with the artistic quality of their work.

As a result the twins, with the collaboration of the foundation, founded the Academia de Arte Alfredo G. Suarez (a famous Guatemalan impressionist). Among their more recent projects one finds a number of exhibitions in the art galleries of Guatemala City. In 2002, they participated in an art competition sponsored by the Italian Dante Alghieri Society where they were awarded a prize for “Honorable Mention.” In the same year they participated in an international competition in Cambridge, Massachusetts where they also conducted a workshop. Moreover, in 2004 (the year of my second visit to Guatemala) they were selected as coordinators of the Gran Mural Histórico de Chichicastenango project, where the twins and their students painted scenes on the walls of the city’s Municipal building.

With respect to education, Juan completed 11 years of schooling. Miguel, on the other hand, studied for 12 years and received a Bachelors degree in Technical Construction Drawing (Dibujos Técnicos de Construcción). Both twins have also received additional training through their participation in various conferences dealing with Mayan culture and they are presently being taught Mayan spirituality by a Mayan priest from San Pedro de La Laguna.

In addition to painting and drawing, the twins also teach sculpture, ceramics and photography. Moreover, they made a video-film in the year 2000 that featured scenes from the Popol Vuh drawn by children from their academy. The twins are very open to working on projects with foreigners and the drawings in this text represent their first attempt at illustrating a book. Their e-mail contact address is: g-baitzat @ hotmail.com or corleon22@yahoo.com


Twins of Chichicastenango Gallery

More Paintings by the Twins


Sample of work


Sample of work

The twins curriculum


More information about the twins

Asociacion De Arte Y Cultura Maya Itzat

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