The Ecuador Chronicles - 2011-37
Casa De La Cultura Ecuatoriana;
Archeology, Art, Theatre, Musical Instrument Museum;
And The Eye of the Jaguar
By Ray Almand
La Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana includes a lot in one building. It is an Art Gallery, and Archeology Museum, a Theatre - and there is an incredible Musical Instrument Museum. The main entrance to Casa de la Cultura faces the Northeast corner of Parque El Ejido. Parque El Ejido is located just north of Colonial Quito, sort of between the Old Town and the Mariscal area New town. Casa Cultura is convenient to both Old and New Town.
Nelson Roman - Contemporary Ecuadorian Artist
As in last week's Chronicle, I came across Nelson Roman's art display quite by accident at Casa Cultura. I had never heard of him, but as I looked at his paintings and sculptures the hidden art critic inside of me came out - so I did a bit of research. As you will see below, these are colorful flights of fantasy. But first some background.
Nelson Roman was born in Latacunga in Cotopaxi Province in 1945. His early influences included Indigenous rituals and dance. He says he was taken early with the colors of Ecuador - the green landscape, the blue of the sky, and in particular the colorful feathers of birds.
Roman studied at the Quito School of Fine Arts. His father was an artist - Roman's early works were displayed in his father's shop. He also began to work with popular Cotopaxi artists, including Alejandro Jacho, Jose Amable Olmos and Indigenous artist Teofilo Quishe (FYI - it means "Free Man" in the Quichua language). He studied Ecuadorian folklore through the Institutio Ecuatoriano de Folklore, and working with Brazilian Anthropologist Paulo de Carvalho Neto.
He became well known in Ecuador through the 1970's, working with a group of three other artists calling themselves “Los Cuatro Mosqueteros” (The Four Musketeers) doing experimental art. The group launched their manifest: “La Ruptura del Yo Individualista” (The Fragmentation of the Individual Self). Your resident art critic (who has never even taken Art Appreciation 101) has no idea what this means - but I really like the idea of the "The Four Musketeers".
More recently Nelson Roman has become recognized internationally - his works have been shown throughout Latin America, Europe and North America. He often makes reference to "El Ojo del Jaguar" (The Eye of the Jaguar) when discussing his work. He likes the Jaguar because it is a (Latin) American animal. Roman notes that the Jaguar remains hidden, carefully observing all around him - but when provoked will suddenly pounce. I think this is wonderful symbolism for an artist.
Take a look at some of Nelson Roman's work - and I will put on my art critic hat (Beret) and provide (just a little) more commentary below.
Cacique Banana Y Sus Guerreros
The Banana Chief and His Warriers
How Can I Possibly Like This?
So, what kind of art is this? Is it abstract - something else; pure fantasy? Well, I consider myself to be a logical person - if at times on the fringes of logic, but I enjoyed Roman's art. I thought of it as fun - I love the little Banana Chief and his crew - ready for battle! The colors are certainly vibrant. The images are wild. The Eye of the Jaguar is everywhere. Is there some deeper meaning - perhaps. But I will settle for the fun and color.
And I can't help but compare to Oswaldo Guayasamin, covered in recent Chronicles. Where Guayasamin's art is often disturbing, Roman leaves you with a wistful, pleasant feeling. If you would like to know more about Nelson Roman, the link to his website is below.