Arts & Entertainment

Mural by Spain’s Okuda marks start of urban art route in Ecuador’s capital

Quito, May 16 (EFE).- A vibrantly colorful mural by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel that marks the start of an urban art route in the Ecuadorian capital was unveiled on Monday and is capturing people’s attention on a boulevard in Quito’s historic center.

Okuda’s work is the first installment of CaminArte, a project to set up an open-air art gallery in a district that is one of the Andean nation’s biggest tourist attractions.

The Spanish Embassy is contributing to the project with a series of murals that are to be completed throughout the year.

Those works, which coincide with the bicentennial of the Battle of Pichincha, will grace the entire length of 24 de Mayo Boulevard and are a part of efforts to beautify the stretch leading to Cima de la Libertad, an area on the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano where pro-independence forces won a decisive victory over Royalist forces loyal to Spain on May 24, 1822.

The mural by Okuda, an artist known for works with bold, multi-colored geometrical patterns, was painted on the facade of an old movie theater and pays homage to the female embroiderers of the Quito neighborhood of Llano Grande, whose creations have been declared part of Ecuador’s national cultural heritage.

CEMFAC – Contemporary Art Forum of Los Llanos de Aridane, a municipality of Spain’s Canary Islands – also collaborated on the mural, which shows three women embroidering.

In keeping with Okuda’s playful graphic style, one of them is in the foreground and is wearing a hat in the shape of Pikachu, a major character in the Pokemon franchise.

Quito Mayor Santiago Guarderas; Spanish Ambassador to Ecuador Elena Madrazo; EU Ambassador to Ecuador Charles-Michel Geurts; and the cultural councillor of Los Llanos de Aridane City Council, Maria Rosario Gonzalez, were on hand for the unveiling of the mural, a ceremony that also included a dance performance.

Guarderas hailed the presence in Quito of a work by Okuda and noted that it was inspired by embroiderers who have enriched the culture of Quito’s inhabitants.

But the project is not just a matter of “coming and painting a mural,” Madrazo said. “It’s interacting with the people who receive us and that we want to work for.”

Through those exchanges, “the artists were able to better understand Ecuador and (it) made it possible for Ecuador to have a little piece of Spain,” she added.

The ambassador hailed the importance of recovering public spaces for Ecuadorian citizens and recalled that the mural “is a gift from the embassy and Las Palmas (Canary Islands) for the (people) of Quito.”

“Okuda has planted a flag of liberty, which is surely the only flag with which we all feel identified,” she added.

For her part, Gonzalez said she hopes these types of cultural internationalization efforts are a way for people to come together and maintain continual dialogue.

In that regard, she recalled that Okuda’s mural is the third work CEMFAC has collaborated on to be displayed abroad, following one by the Boa Mistura art collective in Mozambique and a work by Venezuelan-born Sara Fratini on the Caribbean island of Martinique. EFE


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