Of Rage And Redemption: The Art of Oswaldo Guayasamín

April 19 – August 16, 2009

Opening on Sunday, April 19, 2009, MOLAA is proud to celebrate the art of the renowned Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamín (Ecuador, 1919-1999) with the exhibition Of Rage and Redemption: The Art of Oswaldo Guayasamín.

The national traveling exhibition has been curated by Joseph Mella, Gallery Director, Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and co-organized by the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University in cooperation with the Guayasamín Foundation, Quito, Ecuador. MOLAA is the closing venue for the two-year long tour and joins the Guayasamin Foundation in celebrating the 90th anniversary of Oswaldo Guayasamín’s birth during the four-month exhibition, April 19 – August 16, 2009.

The retrospective exhibition profiles the evolution of Guayasamín’s life and his personal concern for crimes against humanity of social and political injustice. The collection of 80 works of art, paintings, drawings and prints created between 1937 – 1996 focus on the plight of the indigenous peoples in the Andean region as well human suffering, war and violence throughout the world. Guayasamin earned a reputation as Ecuador’s official painter in the 1940s when he presented an exhibition of paintings and portraits of Indians that provoked a scandal. In 1999, he received honorary recognition from the Ninth Meeting of Latin American Presidents as “the painter of Latin America,” for being an activist against violence, war and social injustice. At this time in our history, the art of Guayasamin resonates within the global outcry for peace and justice in the world today.
Non-academic in style and subject matter, Guayasamín established his signature style of indigenismo which is especially recognized for its dramatic representation of the human figure. Defined in powerfully exaggerated proportions and forms, Guayasamín figures are charged with a range of emotions—from human dignity to grief, loss and anguish. Guayasamin said about his art, “My painting is to hurt, to scratch and hit inside people’s hearts. To show what Man does against Man.” Exhibition curator, Joseph Mella states, “Guayasamín’s paintings are not, however, illustrative. They are universal, compassionate, and in the end humanistic expressions of an artist with equal measures of genius and of love for all mankind.”

The exhibition highlights several of Guayasamín’s most important works created during his 60 year career. An early work, Los ninos muertos #11 / The Dead Children #11, 1942, depicts the results of a bloody four-day civil war where a childhood friend of Guayasamín’s was murdered along with many others. As noted by exhibition curator, Joseph Mella, “we see in this work a tragedy of the most profound kind—an almost Goyaesque nightmare that refuses to loose its grip on the viewer. It conveys a sense of deep pain, of anguish, and of all parent’s worst and most sustaining fears—that of the murder of their child.” In the 1960s, Guayasamin broadened his worldview to embrace universal themes of crimes against humanity developing a series of over 100 politically charged paintings titled, Edad de la ira / Age of Wrath. Four large and impressive works from this series appear in the exhibition: La espera II,VII, VIII /Waiting III,VII, VIII, 1968-69; Los torturados I-III/The Tortured I-III, 1976-77; Reunión en el Pentágono I-V/Reunion at the Pentagon I-V; and Napalm. Los torturados, perhaps the most moving of these four works, was inspired by the brutal torture and murder of the Chilean activist folk singer, Victor Jara, who was killed during the overthrow of President Allende’s Chilean socialist government in 1973. Amplified by a series of drawings and prints, the complete exhibition profiles both the artist’s Latin American roots and his universal voice of passion to inspire peace and compassion for humanity.

An illustrated catalog with scholarly essays accompanies the exhibition and is available for sale in the MoLAA Store. The Member’s Opening Reception is to be held on Friday night April 17 and a symposium with the curator, Joseph Mella, the artist’s son Pablo Guayasamin and Carlos A. Jáuregui, project collaborator and catalog essayist to be held in the Main Gallery on Saturday afternoon, April 18 from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. The Saturday symposium is open and free to the public with museum admission.