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Arts & Culture

"Picador"

OSWALDO VITERI

1955 Begins to paint professionally, though he has been painting since childhood. At this time his paintings are figurative: he paints from live models, as well as still lifes and portraits. Has been studying since 1954 with the Dutch painter Jan Schreuder and working at the studio of the North American painter, Lloyd Wulf, until 1960. In 1951 begins formal studies in architecture

1960 Wins the "Mariano Aguilera" Prize with the canvas Man, House and Moon using very austere elements and simple, contrasting planes. The textures are either very smooth or very thick and enclosed in well delimited spaces. This is his symbolic expressionistic stage. Is appointed professor of the School of Architecture of the Central University of Ecuador in Quito where he serves until 1989.

1961 Participates with the Brazilian folklorist Paulo de Carvalho Neto in researching Ecuadorian folklore. Founds the Ecuadorian Institute of Folklore which he directs for several years. This experience of direct contact with the physical environment of Ecuador and folk cultures has a long-lasting impact and clarifies and enriches his vision of Latin American reality. He is very much focussed the ancestral past and also on the present. Cultural symbols, signs, icons already appear in his work. Begins to receive local and intenational recognition and is awarded many important prizes.

1963 / 1968 The Abstract Period
First stage of the abstract period:
Feeling constrained by his symbolic work and perceiving it as too structured, rigid and hard, Viteri embarks into the abstract, first by drawing only with lines made with a ball-paint pen, and later by painting canvasses with large daubs of color. His need to reach a synthesis leads him to abstract gestural compositions with pre-Columbian reminiscences and a permanent questioning about
where do we come from and who are we? He believes in art that has content and meaning. His abstract drawings and paintings are free and spontaneous and somewhat influenced by action painting. The deep interest in Zen Buddhism shown by those painters, and also by Viteri since 1955, later generated his neofigurative and abstract-gestural strain mainly in the form of ink drawings.

Second stage of the abstract: Viteri does not only use the brush to apply paint, he squeezes the paint directly from the tube onto the canvas. This work characterized by strong impastos strives for authenticity. It is likewise a stage of profound aesthetic-plastic concern embodied in the use of large formats.

1968 In Quito Viteri meets Viola a Spanish painter belonging to the "El Paso" group in Madrid, which comprises artists of the stature of Saura, Feito, Millares, among others. Viola is also into the gestural abstract genre and shares Viteri's atelier in the School of Arts, which Viteri directs since 1966. They work jointly on paintings. Once Viteri's interest in abstract is spent, he undertakes a new search, both conceptual and technical, leading to the assemblages.
This gives rise to a new language that seems to disavow painting as such, for it incorporates into what it was formerly a painted surface, objects drawn from ancestral and folk cultures, objects whose inner life -prior to the work of art- is irreversibly transformed within a new a esthetic-plastic context. These objects -sackcloth, chasubles, rag dolls- acquire new contents that are both conceptual and time-space related and also leave their own symbolical-plastic richness to the work of art which is thus also transformed.

1969 Travels to Spain, an experience that increases the need to delve further into this new language, the assemblage. In Madrid he strikes up a friendship with the Jewish-Polish painter, Maryan, works with him and feels his influence in a new neofigurative period which produces many ink drawings charged with an emotional dramatic expression. This period of strong emotional crisis is also one of international recognition of his assemblages embodying the concept of mestization: the merging of cultures.

From 1969 on:
Works in a number of murals and sculpture projects. Travels throughout different countries, sometimes as juror of important international events. So far has participateejer in Medellín, Colombia.

Viteri continues to work on his assemblages, but portraits and figurative drawings are still significant facets. His work is increasingly diversified and rich in technical as well as thematic experiences and conceptual approaches. In 1992 he returnes to oil painting and produces large Andean landscapes of an abstract-expressionist trend which he continues to explore.
Viteri asserts his permanent interest in the contemporary world, his own environment, the need for the strengthening and acknowledging our American identity.

Collage
Viteri began to work in a new technical-conceptual direction in 1968, when the gestural abstract mode no longer provided a response to his personal concerns, particularly in the anthropological area. Where do we come from and who are we? are questions that began to take shape once he abnadoned painting and incorporated, in a new format, those "symbol-objects" gathered from his experiences in folk culture.

Therefore, the assemblages do not only act through objets bearing prior significances and related to his own context, but also through the notion and use of fragments. The imprint left in our memory by those fragments - bits and pieces of the world- enables us to rebuild the whole; that is, the heterogeneous, contradictory, mestizo and hybrid identity of Latin America.

Oil Painting
Having achieved international recognition and prizes in biennial shows and in exhibits, and especially critical acclaim, Viteri left abstract-gestural painting towards 1968. He abandoned it for assemblages, for the need to find an identity beyond the mere personal one. In the early nineties, after the assemblages, a very demanding and conceptually powerful medium, had satisfied much of his restless quest, Viteri returned to oil painting, but with a more gestural than abstract bent. The Andean landscapes or neofigurative heads are repeatedly portrayed in an experience that liberates him from the constraints of very controlled spaces and meanings, of precise and well thought out colors.

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