The Ecuador Chronicles - 2011-25
A Review of Oswaldo Guayasamin;
Famous Modern Ecuador Artist;
The Guayasamin Museum
Live Well Ecuador presents a three part series on Ecuador Artist Oswaldo Guayasamin. We will cover:
We begin with some biograhical information and the Guayasamin Museum.
by Ray Almand
Oswaldo Guayasamin was born in Quito in 1919 into a modest family - the oldest of 10 brothers. His father was of indigenous Quicheua descent and his mother was Mestiza. His father worked as a carpenter and later a truck and taxi driver. Guayasamin began creating works of art at age seven. He often got into trouble for painting caricatures of his teachers. His father pushed him to pursue a professional career, but the young Oswaldo chose to join the Quito School of Fine Arts - he graduated as a painter and sculptor. He soon became a well known artist creating a Pan-American art of human and social inequalities which achieved international recognition.
While Guayasamin was still a student his best friend was killed during a demonstration. This event would later inspire one of his famous paintings, "Los Niños Muertos." This also influenced his view of the society he lived in. Much of his artistic work concerns the cruelty and injustice of society against the poor, the indigenous, blacks - weak people in general. He was greatly influenced by some historical world events: the Mexican Revolution, the Great Depression, the Spanish Civil War. In 1944 and 1945 he traveled Latin America from Mexico to Patagonia, taking notes and making drawings that would later become a series of 103 paintings called "Camino del Llanto" (The Crying Trail)
He was never affiliated with any political party, but he worked against dictators and what he saw as abuses and aggressions coming from powerful imperialistic countries. Like many artists and intellectuals of that time (and of this time) he did show sympathy and admiration for leftist ideology, in particular the communist Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro. We will have some more commentary on this in Part Three of this series.
Oswaldo Guayasamin died in 1999, age 79.
The best place to see his work is the Guayasamin Museum located in the Bellavista residential district northeast of Quito New town. The museum contains the most complete collection of his work. It is actually located in his former home. Many of the people in his paintings have an abstract sort of skeletal appearance, often with very large hands. The paintings attract your attention - you may find yourself drawn to them even if you think you don't like them. Most of them are quite large.
Recently I visited the museum - you can get a feel for his art from the photos below. While there I met Guadalupe de Guayasamin (Lupe) - Guayasamin's daughter-in-law - who worked for him for many years. She now works for the museum. Lupe was kind enough to let me take a few photos (even though you weren't supposed to). She said he was a great and wonderful man, and very kind. Dalynda has become friendly with Guayasamin's niece who runs the Guayasamin store at the Archbishop's Palace in Colonial Quito. It seems that family may be quite involved in the Guayasamin legacy. The museum has a shop - you can even buy a Guayasamin t-shirt - take that Fidel!
Here are some pictures from my visits to the Guayasamin Muesem.
Guadalupe de Guayasamin (Lupe) and Oswaldo Guayasamin Himself
Yours Truly - Famous Art Critic
Lupe and Me at the Muesem
Would You Like to come to Ecuador and meet a famous person's relative: