Arts & Entertainment

Ecuador art exhibit explores ancient Andean cosmovisions

By Susana Madera

Quito, Oct 4 (EFE).- Ecuadorian artist Miguel Betancourt explores the cosmovisions of different pre-Columbian cultures in a new exhibition here aimed at instilling a greater sense of pride and identity among modern-day inhabitants of the Andean region.

The “Cosmogonias de un pintor” (Cosmogonies of a Painter) exhibit comprises a selection of 45 oil paintings and watercolors on canvas, jute fabric and rice paper.

“What I wanted to do was raise awareness. To make us see ourselves through these images to forge, refine our identity, to feel pride in our roots,” Betancourt, a painter whose works form part of collections in Vienna, Geneva, Tokyo, Rome, the United States and London, told Efe.

In this new exhibition, Betancourt took inspiration from the female figures of the Valdivia culture, the U-shaped stone chairs of the Manteño civilization, the ceramic pieces of the Chorrera, Machalilla and Guangala cultures and figures from Peruvian cultures such as the Chimu, Paracas and Inca.

In creating his works, Betancourt also drew upon influences from both sides of the Atlantic – Andean textiles and landscapes and the art of Europe.

“At the end of the day, I’m a product of here and there,” said the Ecuadorian, an admirer of French visual artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954).

He recalled that for ancient Andean cultures “death was an eternal return,” and therefore in one of his works there are “figures (from the past) that are sharing, conversing in the present moment.”

Some works that make up the “Cosmogonias de un pintor” exhibit are currently being displayed at the New York Latin American Art Triennial as part of the “Abya Yala: Structural Origins” exhibit, which examines “processes and forms of creation inspired by traditional methodologies, materials and concepts” implemented during different stages of cultural and intellectual growth in the Americas.

Most of the paintings to be exhibited starting Wednesday at the Alianza Francesa de Quito gallery are works Betancourt created over the past three years.

The smallest are 30 x 40 centimeters (12 x 16 inches), while the biggest are around 3.0 x 1.6 meters (9.8 x 5.2 feet).

The exhibit will be open until Oct. 26, but Betancourt already is planning to take those works to Spain for an art show featuring a mixture of Iberian and pre-Columbian cultures.

In that regard, besides the pieces that are part of the “Cosmogonias de un pintor” exhibit, Betancourt plans to showcase an interpretation of Diego Velazquez’s masterpiece “Las Meninas” that includes Ecuadorian landscapes and multicolored butterflies. EFE


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