Arts & Entertainment

Spanish artist helps revitalize Ecuador’s capital

By Fernando Gimeno

Quito, May 13 (EFE).- Be it a wall, a lighthouse, a dike, or even a church, the mission remains the same for Okuda wherever in the world he finds himself: “transform the gray cement of the cities into color.”

The multifaceted Spanish artist was commissioned to undertake the first part of CaminArte (Art Walk), a project to spruce up Quito’s historic quarter for the upcoming bicentennial of the May 24, 1822, Battle of Pichincha, a turning point in Ecuador’s independence struggle.

With financial support from the Spanish Embassy, Okuda (Oscar San Miguel) set about transforming the weathered facade of a former cinema on 24 de Mayo boulevard into a mural paying tribute to the craftswomen of Comuna Llano Grande, masters of traditional Andean embroidery.

The artist made a point of visiting the women at their workshop before beginning work on the mural.

“For me it’s very important to know these embroiderers,” he told Efe. “My work is really like a ‘mix’ between the almost-digital language of geometry mixed with ancestral patterns, as it can be with the Andean, Maya, Inca, African, or Asian culture.”

The mural depicts three Andean women in Okuda’s Cubism-adjacent multicolor geometric style. One of them looks outward at the viewer, while the other two gaze intently at the embroideries they are making.

Inspired by something he learned during his encounter with the artisans, Okuda included a hummingbird in the tableau.

“They explained to me that when a hummingbird approaches, they interpret it as if a person who has died is coming to visit,” he recounted to Efe.

The Quito project is Okuda’s first since the recent opening in Madrid of his studio/gallery, Factory of Dreams, an expanse of 1,000 sq km (10,749 sq ft) where he will create works and display pieces by other artists.

“It has been like a dream fulfilled, because we had around 2 1/2 years of work between the pandemic, permits, architects, and design,” he told Efe. “But it’s not a target, but rather the start of something greater.”

“I really feel as if I’m in a space where many things can happen, a kind of laboratory of new ideas in which very interesting things are going to emerge,” Okuda said. EFE fgg/dr

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