Sunday 14 September 2014

Osvaldo Guayasamin, artist laureate of Ecuador



Yesterday, in Quito, the visit to the Fundaciòn Guayasamin. Osvaldo Guayasamin was perhaps the most outstanding artist in Ecuador. Born poor, with a taxi driver father and a mestizo mother, he went on to Art School and by the age of 23 was being recognized internationally. Robert Garcia said G brought in pre-Columbian and Christian themes into his work, but was not religious. Still, he had a powerful sense of justice and a great option for the poor, the suffering, the disinherited. In his work, his own position is clear, without doubt. And this, I was thinking, is already deeply spiritual. He himself spoke of his Age of Anger, and of his later Age of Ternura or Tenderness. He seems to have grown through his work, despite having gone through three wives in his personal life. His art is powerful and his technique unmistakable. Towards the end of his life, he set up a Capilla del Hombre, celebrating the human being. This work, which is situated on the grounds of his house in an upper class suburb of Quito, and is part of the Fundacion, remained incomplete at the artist’s death, but is still something quite extraordinary.

Besides his work (more than 4000 paintings in different techniques – oil, lithograph, watercolour; sculptures; furniture), he has left to the Fundacion also his large and extraordinary collection of pre-Columbian and colonial art.

A short video showed the artist at work, doing a portrait of a friend. Extraordinary, the speed, the technique, the deftness. “Painting is like building a cathedral. You lay the foundations and then build on them, upwards.” “The cranium is the important thing: it is entirely particular to each individual.”


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