Oswaldo Guayasamín was an Ecuadorian artist whose work is characterized by its Cubist-styled depictions of Latin American people. The artist focused especially on portraying the rampant oppression, poverty, and political strife he witnessed growing up in the region. Born on July 6, 1919 in Quito, Ecuador to parents of Quechua descent, Guayasamín showed a passion for art from an early age, and went on to attend the School of Fine Arts in Quito. The artist’s subsequent rise to prominence came about with his exhibition at the Salón Nacional de Acuarelistas y Dibujantes in 1948. Followed by shows at the São Paulo Biennial, the Luxembourg Palace in Paris, and the Palais de Glace in Buenos Aires. Guayasamín is considered by some to be a national hero. His legacy includes the completion of La Capilla del Hombre, a chapel remembering the mistreatment of indigenous peoples in Latin America. During his life, Guayasmín befriended the famed writers Gabriel Garcia-Marquez and Pablo Neruda. He once said “Mantengan encendida una luz que siempre voy a volver,” or “Keep a light burning for I will always return.” Although he sadly passed away on March 10, 1999 in Baltimore, MD, his murals can be seen at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris and at Adolfo Suárez Airport in Madrid.
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