Ten Years Have Passed Since the Death of the Painter Guayasamín, a Symbol of Ecuador
By Dialogo March 10, 2009Quito, Mar 9 (EFE) – Tomorrow the Tree of Life, in whose roots rest the ashes of the artist Oswaldo Guayasamín, a symbol of Ecuador, will receive an emotional visit from the family of the artist on the tenth anniversary of his death. In the gardens of the cultural complex of la Capilla del Hombre, the artist’s architectural work in honor of pre-Colombian America, stands the tree under which rest the ashes of the Ecuadorian painter of faces and hands, who died on March 10, 1999. Ten years later his work is “even more contemporary, because we are permanently searching for reflection and a new culture of peace, and his paintings are a desperate call for the end of humankind’s mutual aggression,” his son Pablo Guayasamín explained to Efe. The Executive Director of the Guayasamín Foundation and one of the artist’s 10 children, Pablo Guayasamín holds up as an example of the artist’s topicality the “Mestizaje,” a painting that represents a young woman “with great strength and spirit, a mixture of the Spanish and the indigenous Indian races.” According to the artist’s son, from this woman “a new society is born” representing “the resurrection of a new race that is more humanitarian and has a better comprehension of its time that has values different from the ones we have and that is much less confrontational; instead, better understanding and respecting the thoughts of one another.” The Ecuadorian master, who used to say that he had 3,000 years of life experience, sadness, and happiness from his indigenous people, found in the denouncement of injustice, poverty, and disparity the sparks of his creations. For that reason, and because he considered transcending the historical moment in which he lived when dealing with eternal issues of human nature, his paintings, with energetic features and occasionally abstractions reminiscent of Picasso, even today conquer perceptions and win new admirers. “There is a large new audience that expands as the work becomes universal” because “it is not in the same historical moment as when he created it, when it was associated with a political vision;” but “is now extended to all people who advocate and respect human rights,” Pablo Guayasamín stated. For the creator, painting is not a labor, “painting is something different, it is like making love, it is something I long for each day,” he said when he was alive, and the same passion he dedicated to art guided him in his search for a common Latin-American identity and his preoccupation with social injustice. Guayasamín, which in Guichua means “white bird flying,” said that the “dark and violent” 20th Century forced him to fill his pictures with “great sadness,” hence the agonized faces in many of his paintings: denunciation of torture and human pain. The artist, then 79 years old, suffered a heart attack in 1999 in a hotel in Baltimore (United States). On one occasion the artist stated that he did not believe in death, that “men get diluted but go on living through their descendants”, and this is what his children will celebrate tomorrow: that Guayasamín remains alive in them and in his art.