Monday, July 31, 2006

Oswaldo Guayasamín Museum in Quito, Ecuador

Oswaldo Guayasamín isn’t exactly a household name in North America. In fact, I had never heard of him until I visited Ecuador last year. Guayasamín was born in Quito in 1919, the eldest of 10 children. His father was indigenous and his mother of mixed Spanish and Indian blood. Guayasamín rose from poverty to become Ecuador’s best known painter and sculpture. Throughout his life, he championed the rights of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples and criticized social inequities and oppression in his homeland and around the world. A museum dedicated to Guayasamín's life and work stands on a hillside in Bellavista, a hillside residential neighbourhood southeast of downtown Quito.

The complex, set in pleasant gardens adorned with Guayasamín’s modernistic sculptures, consists of three separate venues: the Museo Guayasamín showcasing 250 of the artist’s most important paintings, an archaeological museum with over 3000 pre-Columbian artifacts collected by Guayasamín, plus a museum of colonial art amassed by the artist. Guayasamín used bold colours in his paintings, and figures often seem to reach out from the canvasses in pain and anguish. His powerful works left me with the impression that he was an innovative and compassionate artist deeply concerned about the stark realities of the human condition. Oswaldo Guayasamín died on March 10, 1999, and Ecuadorans consider him a national treasure.

The Museo Guayasamín complex is located at Calle Bosmediano 543 in Bellavista. It can easily be reached by taxi or bus from new or old Quito. Opening hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Admission is US$2.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of the best spots to get a view of Old town, the valley, and points North.. He did his homework when he picked the site!