Spanish-born Mexican artist Vicente Rojo was awarded Mexico's Fine Arts Medal for "his vast experience" in the visual arts and his contributions as a painter, designer and sculptor, the National Fine Arts Institute said.

Rojo, who was born in Barcelona in 1932, was presented with the country's top honor for work in the arts on Saturday for his "active and prolific" career, the institute said in a statement.

"Today we gather around an indispensable artist for recreating the panorama of Mexican art in the 20th and 21st centuries," National Culture and Arts Council, or Conaculta, president Consuelo Saizar said during the awards ceremony.

"Standing out in Vicente Rojo is his liberation of the image and the search for new conceptual and formal languages" in Mexican art, Saizar said.

Rojo accepted the prize and thanked the country's cultural institutions, recalling when in the 1950s at just 17 years of age he began working at the National Fine Arts Institute as a draftsman and model maker.

"As a young Spanish republican I always had the certainty that this was my country," Rojo said.

Rojo is the creator of a broad body of painting, graphic design and sculpture produced during the second half of the 20th century, and starting in 1980 he began to alternate painting with sculpting.

Critics consider Rojo to be an abstract artist and they place him within Mexico's "La ruptura" artistic movement.

Rojo arrived in Mexico in 1949 and began studying painting and typography before in 1960 becoming the cofounder of the Era publishing house, for which he was the artistic director, and embarking on an extensive career.

The artist is the nephew of Gen. Vicente Rojo Lluch, an outstanding Spanish republican who opposed the rise of dictator Francisco Franco.

Over the years, his work has been displayed in different venues in Mexico, as well as at the University of Texas in Austin, the Circulo de Bellas Artes, the National Library and the Casa de la Moneda Museum in Madrid, among others.

In 1991, Rojo received the National Arts Prize awarded by Conaculta and the Medallion of Merit in the Fine Arts bestowed by the Spanish government.

He holds an honorary doctorate from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, and is well known as the designer of the first cover for "100 Years of Solitude" by novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez.