OSWALDO GUAYASAMIN (1919-1999)
Oswaldo Guayasamín, born in Quito, Ecuador in 1919, dedicated his entire life to painting, sculpting, and fighting the injustices of life. All of Guayasamín's paintings or sculptures evoke an immediate reaction. The strong colors, often disturbing images and forceful themes, are meant to make the patron stop and take notice. From very early on, Guayasamin used art to fight against violence and injustice. Throughout his life, Guayasamín would continue to use his paintings and sculptures to combat the cruelties of life in which the poor, the indigenous, and the afro-Ecuadorian were discriminated against.
He graduated from the School of Fine Art in Quito as a painter and sculptor. He carried out his first exhibit when he was 23, in 1942. In his youth he received numerous national awards, and was credited in 1952, at the age of 33, the Grand Award of the Biennial of Spain and later the Grand Award of the Biennial of Sao Paulo.
His work has been shown in museums in all capitals of America and in many countries in Europe including Leningrad (L’Ermitage), Moscow, Prague, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona and Warsaw. He carried out 180 individual exhibits. The Guayasamín Foundation showcases his most important works and includes a collection of pre-Colombian sculptures (3,000 pieces), colonial art (800 pieces) and his contemporary pieces (250 works). In the contemporary gallery his most forceful works from 1964 to 1984 are exhibited. The Nazi invasions, the concentration camps, Hiroshima, Vietnam, the invasions of Panama and the Dominican Republic, and the tortures and genocide by the dictators of Latin America are all expressed through his eyes and on his canvases.
During the remaining years of his life he worked on The Chapel of Man, a 6,000 square foot mural which would reflect the history of our America from pre-Colombian times to present. This masterpiece was declared a cultural priority by UNESCO. Sadly, Guayasamín was not able to complete this dream.