Ivan, not Oswaldo, Guayasamin – A Colombian artist stunned us at the mall

July 2015

Woman with flowerMichael: Large paintings displayed on easels grabbed our attention. We had just entered the center building of the Plaza Mayor in Chia, Colombia. These pieces were different than anything I have seen before.

“They are familiar but different,” my wife said.

I know to listen to my better half. She studied with some of the most well-known Colombian painters of her time. But I could see her mind searching for how she knew this particular style and subject. “Guayasamin,” I said reading the last name of the artist on the card about the painting of a woman holding a flower. In my usual manner, my pronunciation was slightly off.

My wife, use to me sometimes getting some Spanish names incorrect, figured it out and said in a questioning voice, “Oswaldo?”

“No, Ivan,” I said double checking the card.

Graciela: Ivan was new to me, but Oswaldo Guayasamin I met many years ago when he presented an exhibition in Bogotá. A large collection was displayed and I remember a great number of pieces selling.

Born in Ecuador in 1919 Oswaldo won many awards and presented exhibitions throughout the world until his death in 1999 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Many of his paintings seem to have a sadness to them. But it is understandable. His subject captured poverty, political opression and racism, especially of the indigenous of South America.

In later years the artist also made sculptures and jewelry.

Here is a good source of more information about the man and his work.

Michael: Oswald is not well known in The United States. His subject matter is often controversial to American beliefs. The painting of a man in a Nazi helmet with the letters of “CIA” on it did not help much in gaining U.S. supporters. Also he did portratis of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

Graciela: While I know the Ecuadorian Guayasamin’s work as rounded in design, the pieces in front of us at the mall displayed more triangular features. The indigenous Indian theme still came through though.

Some websites say this artist born in Pasto, Colombia  is no relation to the Ecuadorian. Other sites say he is a nephew of the famous artist. Either way there is definitely a similarity in their work.

Michael: I hope one day to meet this Colombian artist, Ivan Guayasamin. He has won many awards in his won right. There have been exhibitions of his works in Spain, Mexico and England as well as Colombia.

Below are couple more of his many works on display at the mall. You can find more on his blogspot page.

Graciela: And if you get a chance, visit Chia’s Plaza Mayor Mall before the exhibit leaves.