Born in The Bronx, New York City, in 1933, Julian Robles has been living and painting in Taos, New Mexico, since 1968. He is dedicated to recording the ceremonials of the New Mexico and Arizona Indians before their valued rituals are lost. "I find it exciting to capture the life and color of an Indian ritual," he declares. "It's exhilarating to paint the air around the bronze head of a Pueblo Indian."
His mother, who was also an artist, recognized Robles' talent when he was only six years old. Robles went on to study art in high school in Jersey City, New Jersey, and then at the Pratt Institute in New York City, eventually serving as a technical illustrator in the U.S. Air Force from 1953 to 1958. Posts in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Amarillo, Texas, allowed Julian to take frequent painting trips to New Mexico, prompting his eventual relocation to the area. After military service, Robles remained in Amarillo to teach and to paint portraits until 1961 when he returned to New York City to work as a commercial artist. He would then study at the Arts Student League and the National Academy of Design in New York until his final move to Taos where he was a founding member of the Taos Six, along with Rod Goebel, Walt Gonske, Ray Vinella, Robert Daughters, and Ron Barsano.
Like the Taos founders before him, Robles finds a magical quality in the southwest landscape with its striking contrasts of desert and mountains and the variety of clouds against perfect blue skies. As Robles says, "The combination of all these elements make living and painting in northern New Mexico next to high drama for the painter."
At some Indian ceremonials, photography and sketching are not permitted so Robles memorizes the details and he sketches them in his studio where he has a collection of artifacts. To compose the details for a painting, he re-creates the ritual as if he were actually a participant. Therefore, in a way his approach is the same as an actor's in making a role come alive. As a result of this first-hand experience, his canvases glow with a warm, inviting light, and his colors are the vibrant purple, red, and turquoise of Indian ceremonial costumes.
Julian Robles has won numerous awards for his penetrating insights into the culture and beauty of the Southwest, not only for his oil paintings but also for his pastels and woodblock prints. His honors include the gold medal of the Webber-Costello Award for portrait painting at the National Pastel Society Show, New York, in 1985, as well as many invitations and awards at invitational shows at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the National Western Artists show in Lubbock, Texas. Robles continues to work at his studio in Taos, but spends much of his time painting on location throughout the Southwest.