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Press Release:

MEDIA CONTACT:   Polly Burks
561-297-2595, pburks@fau.edu

FAU to Present Exhibition by Internationally Renowned Ecuadorian Artist Oswaldo Guayasamín

FAU is One of Six Exhibition Sites in the United States

            BOCA RATON, FL (May 21, 2008) – The University Galleries in the School of the Arts in Florida Atlantic University’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters presents Of Rage and Redemption: The Art of Oswaldo Guayasamín, a traveling exhibition surveying the work of one of the most highly regarded Latin American artists of the twentieth century, Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919-1999).   The exhibition will be at FAU’s Schmidt Center Gallery from Friday, September 19 through Saturday, December 6.   Though the artist’s work has exhibited extensively in Latin America and Europe, this is the first exhibition of any of his work in the United States in more than half a century. FAU is one of six sites selected for this unprecedented national tour

There will be an opening reception on Friday, September 19 at 6 p.m. in the Schmidt Center Gallery.   There will also be a series of public programs, including lectures by art historians and a musical event planned to coincide with the exhibition and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.   The exhibition and all associated programs are free and open to the public.

            The exhibition extends over each of Guayasamín’s definitive periods, starting with his younger years in Quito, Ecuador, the artist’s birthplace.   He was the eldest of 10 children in a family of modest means.   With his mother’s support and over his father’s opposition, Guayasamín entered Quito’s Escuela de Bellas Artes (School of Fine Arts) at the age of 12, so that he could pursue his passion for drawing and painting.   The artist’s deep ties to his mother are seen in “Mother and Child” (1941), one of his earliest works.   The theme of maternal love in this painting is one of three themes that permeate his work.   Guayasamín’s early paintings were also affected by a four-day civil war that took place in Ecuador during his childhood.   A friend of Guayasamín’s died in the turmoil, and this had a profound affect on his work, as evident in “Dead Children” (1942). This early agony lasted a lifetime and contributed to a second theme in his work, the atrocities of war.

The third theme of his work is a concern with the plight of the poor and the oppressed.   Guayasamín had a preoccupation with Latin America’s history of violence and colonialism, as evidenced by the painting “The Bull and the Condor” (1957), which depicts the struggle between Ecuador’s indigenous peoples (the condor) and their conquerors (the bull).   During this time that he called his “Age of Wrath,” Guayasamín tried to, as he observed, “show what Man does against Man.”   He strove to record the plight of not only the indigenous people in Ecuador, but oppressed people all over the world.

In the late 1960s, Guayasamín visited populist Chilean politician Salvador Allende during a visit to Cuba, and the following year was arrested in Ecuador and held for several days on charges of subversion.   Two years later, his son, Pablo, was detained for political reasons and tortured by the Ecuadorian government.   These events fueled Guayasamín’s anger, which later turned increasingly toward the United States and its foreign policy with paintings such as “Napalm” (1976) and “Meeting at the Pentagon” (1970). Another work from this period is “The Tortured” (1976-77), inspired by the brutal torture and murder of the Chilean activist folk singer Victor Jara during the wave of deaths that followed a U.S.-backed military coup that overthrew the Chilean socialist government of President Salvador Allende in 1973.  

            By the 1980s, Guayasamín entered what is known as his “Tenderness” period in which brighter colors and lighter themes show up in his work.   A mature Guayasamín recognized the power and strength inherent in tenderness.   This realization is apparent in “The Lovers” (1989), and “Mother and Child” (1989).

The exhibition was organized by the Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies at Vanderbilt University and the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and supported, in part, by the Vanderbilt University College of Arts and Science, and the Louise Bullard Wallace Foundation, Nashville.   FAU sponsors include Office of International Programs, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program, Andean Cultural Studies, department of languages, linguistics and comparative literature, department of anthropology, peace studies program, department of music, department of visual arts and art history, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs in the Division of Student Affairs.   Additional support is provided by the State of Florida’s Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts; Palm Beach County Cultural Council; R.A. Ritter Foundation; and individual friends of the University Galleries.

FAU’s galleries are open Tuesday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Guided class and group tours are welcome during public hours or at alternative hours by appointment. For more information, please call 561-297-2966 or visit www.fau.edu/galleries.

-FAU-

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