Biography of Oswaldo Guayasamin (1919-1999)

Painter and Ecuadorian sculptor, born in Quito on 6 July 1919 and died in Baltimore (USA).UU) on March 10, 1999. Son of Indian and mestizo mother, was the first of ten children and her name in quechua means white flying bird. At age seven he began to paint, selling his drawings to the tourists that visited the city. In 1932 he entered the school of the fine arts of Quito. At this time the war of the four days, in which numerous people die took place. The vision of his best friend, Majarres, died on the floor affected him deeply and inspired his painting entitled the dead children. In 1941, and after having been expelled for a year, he graduated from this school as a painter and sculptor.

In 1942, in Quito, he made his first exhibition, which caused a big scandal, since it is interpreted as a gesture of defiance against the official sample of the schools of fine arts. Shortly after exhibited in Guayaquil, where he obtained a great success. That same year his portrait painting my brother won the award in the exhibition contest Mariano Aguilera in Quito.

He toured several museums and studied the works of the masters of universal painting, including El Greco, Goya and Picasso. Subsequently he visited Mexico, where he met the painter José Clemente Orozco, Indian as it, which worked for a while. In 1943 he met the Chilean Pablo Neruda, which filed a strong friendship. A year later he travelled various countries of Latin America, including Peru, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, finding in all of them an oppressed indigenous society, theme which, since then, appears in his works. During this trip, which lasted two years, he made more than three thousand drawings, which later used for his series Huacaynan (the road of tears); This series consists of three hundred pictures and is divided into three parts: Indian themes, themes mestizo and black themes: she wants to show the world the conjunction of human groups belonging to the Latin America and the drama of those peoples.

In 1948 he was awarded the first prize in the national Salon of Watercolor Painters and cartoonists, in Quito. This year painted fresco, a mural for the House of Ecuadorian culture on the theme of the Spanish conquest. In 1954, he made another mural, in glass mosaic Venice, for the facade of the Central Bolívar, Caracas, and a year later explained his way of crying in the Pan American Union in Washington.

In 1955 he traveled for the first time to Spain, on the occasion of the celebration in Barcelona of the III Bienal Hispano Americana art, in which exhibited 30 paintings and in which his triptych the white coffin was awarded the first prize for painting. In 1957 it was also awarded the prize to the best painter of South America in the Bienal de São Paulo (Brazil).

In 1958 he performed two large murals: one for the Palacio of the Quito Government, entitled the discovery of the Amazon River; and the other, history of man and culture, for the Central University of Ecuador; along with this last also registered a large sculpture entitled Prometeo.

In 1960 he went to Cuba to paint Fidel Castro and carried out a series of paintings, the martyrs, inspired by the horrors committed during the Batista government, which then included in his great age of wrath series. That same year he was awarded the Grand Prize of the second biennial of painting, sculpture and engraving of Mexico.

In 1961 he began to paint the age of wrath, performing about 250 pictures on the basis of more than 5,000 drawings. To make it he traveled around the world visiting, among other places, the city of Hiroshima and concentration camps. In this work he wants to reflect the cruelty and injustice of the time that have lived you. Two years later he was arrested in Ecuador by the military dictatorship.

In 1967 he was appointed Vice President of the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana. He finished his age of wrath and exhibited it in Rome, Chile, Quito, and Cuenca (Ecuador). In 1971 he held the Presidency of the Casa de la Cultura and initiated a program of cultural dissemination among the people. That same year he made the young homeland sculptural monument, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the independence of Guayaquil.

In 1973 it opened in Quito the Guayasamín Museum, with different works, and a year later the Guayasamín workshop, in Caracas. In 1976 he created the Fundación Guayasamín, Quito, who donated his work and his art collections. Two years later he was appointed member of the Royal Academy of fine arts of San Fernando of Spain, and honorary member of the Academy of Arts in Italy, in 1979.

In 1980 he was elected President of the constituent meeting of the Latin American Association of human rights and in 1981 took part in the meeting of intellectuals by the sovereignty of Latin American peoples, held in Havana.

In 1982 was inaugurated at Barajas airport a mural of 120 meters made by Guayasamin, realized in acrylic and marble dust. It is divided into two parts: one dedicated to Spain and to Latin America. In 1983 she exhibited at a Madrid Gallery 62 paintings in his studio in Barcelona and as a result of 10 months of work. This new series, dedicated entirely to tenderness, constitutes a fact without precedents in the work of the painter. The series form part of your collection while living always remember, dedicated to his mother and all mothers of the world. Shortly after he returned to exhibit a collection of thousand drawings comprising a sample of his entire artistic career from 1930 to 1983 in Madrid. At the same time, he prepared the portraits of King Juan Carlos and the then Prime Minister, Felipe González.

In August 1988 he delivered to the Ecuadorian Parliament a mural about 360 square meters that was installed in the Chamber of the House. Oswaldo Guayasamín is considered by critics as the first Hispanic-American painter and as a predominant figure of the artistic vanguard of that continent.

Proposed candidate for the prize Príncipe de Asturias de Artes Plásticas 1990, Ecuadorian painter presented on October 17, 1991, in the Cádiz town of Puerto Real, model of the memorial tribute to victims of the European invasion since 1492. The work of Guayasamin opened between 9 and 12 October 1992 during the celebration of the Popular Forum of emancipation and identity of Latin America 1492-1992 within the campaign 500 years of aggression, 500 years of resistance, for the emancipation of peoples. That same year he donated a mural at the UNESCO which was installed at the entrance of the headquarters of that organization in Paris and which is dedicated to the millions of children who die every year of hunger in the world.

An exhibition of painting, sculpture and Goldsmith opened in Santafé de Bogotá in 1993. That same year opened in Santo Domingo the Guayasamín House, which sets out jewelry, handicrafts and watches made by the Ecuadorian painter; and in Santiago of Chile also opened the doors of the headquarters of the foundation that bears his name. In 1994 opened in Adeje, Spain an exhibition of prints and watercolors. A month later he signed a collaboration agreement with the Diputación Provincial of Cáceres, which will entail the creation of a Guayasamin Foundation in the capital of Extremadura, declared world heritage by the UNESCO.

In addition to devoting himself to painting and sculpture, design jewelry, on the lines of the pre-Inca and Mondrian. He has illustrated a book designed in a joint edition of Amnesty International, the Austrian SPÖ Social Democratic Party and the publishing of the Vienna woman.

Oswaldo Guayasamín is doctor honoris causa of the universities of Ecuador, Venezuela and Bulgaria; He has been honored by the Governments of five countries and is in possession of the Gold Medal of the UNESCO human rights. Divorced three times, is father of seven children, working with him in the Guayasamín Foundation.


Camón Aznar, José, Oswaldo Guayasamin, Ediciones Polígrafa

Lucie-Smith, Edwrad, Latin American art of the century XX, Barcelona, Ediciones destination, 1994