Son of an indigenous couple, he knew in his childhood the hard working life of his people.
With a big effort of his father, he went to school, but his performance was darken by his artistic skills. Just as every genius, he found trouble in school, bad grades, scolds of his teachers for drawing their faces in class, etc.
His father was infuriated about that but Guasamin felt his mother understood the need of his soul to be expressed. The legend tells that at the age of 7, he painted a sunset and his mother felt his frustration for not finding the perfect redish enlightment, so she tenderly borowed him a little of his brest milk (from his younger child) to help him mix the watercolors. Amparo Guayasamín, Oswaldo’s niece, denies the truthfulness of that history, but the romanticism of the legend remains.
His paintings were some kind of general at first (like in Los Trabajadores, 1942), but his travels to Mexico and South America, his encounters with Picasso, Neruda and Diego Rivera (among others) defined his style of denounce of injustices and suffering of the indigenous and afrodescendent people (like in Ataúd blanco). He was marked by the centuries wars and messacres like Iroshima bomb, intensifying the expression in his paintings, like in Playa Girón that represents the massacre of exiled cubans when they tried to enter the island.
It is just fascinating to follow his development as an artist and the gradual defition of his own style, inspired at first by the abstract artists he admired (Monet, Picasso), but becoming very unique with the time!
We can see first like a general and almost common drawing, compiled in the secction called “Retrospective”, followed by the “Hucayñan” (The path of Pain in Quichua language) section, that shows more about his choise of colours and contrasts. We can clearly see how, in the 3rd secction “The Age of Rage”, the lines become more agressive, showing the suffering he wanted to express.
The most interesting section is the 4th one, “The Tenderness”, where we can see the artist’s style completely defined sealed by the personality of the great Oswaldo Guayasamin. We can enjoy the hard drawing, the contrast and combination of colours, the representation of the indigenous features but with incredibly tender expressions. This secction is dedicated to his mother, expressing the thankfullness of the painter to her support and the warming maternal love. He painted many portraits for his friends like Fidel Castro and many others.
A visit to his house, his museum and the emblematic “Capilla del Hombre” (Human’s chapel), is completely worth it! For only $5 you can see a large collection of his masterpieces and enjoy one of the most important Latin American artists footprint. You can even visit the Tree of Life, a tree planted by Guayasamin himself, where his ashes are buried!
The funny fact is that in his first years as art student, Oswaldo sold his drawings in the Alameda park to get some money to pay the art school. Maybe walking around the park you could cross the next American Great Talent, who knows…?