ARMANDO VILLEGAS

 

In 1950, he receives the title of professor of drawing and painting from the National School of Fine Arts in Perú. In December 1951, he arrives at Bogotá (Colombia) to enter the School of Fine Arts of the National University of Colombia as a scholarship holder to do postgradARMANDIOuate studies in mural painting with muralist Ignacio Gómez Jaramillo, and since then he established himself definitely in Colombia. In 1953, he graduates from the National University of Colombia as master in mural painting. During his years at the School of Fine Arts, he collaborates with “El Callejón” Art Gallery in Bogotá, where he would link himself to the most outstanding members of the society, the elite of intellectuals, politicians and young artists from the capital city at the time. In that gallery, in 1955 he presented his first professional individual sample, which was inaugurated by Nobel Prize Gabriel García Márquez, who premonitorily said in his speech: “I have the pleasant impression of being attending the beginning of an amazing pictorial work”. Since then, his artistic activity has been continuous as well as his teaching activity and his recognition as a tireless worker and investigator, including different expressive fields. In Latin America, he’s considered one of the abstraction predecessors together with artists like Fernando de Szyszlo in Perú, and Marco Ospina, Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar and Edgar Negret in Colombia. His great contribution to this trend is the fact that he has been one of the first artists exploring Peruvian Pre-Columbian designs in depth, supported on his Quechua culture with profound indigenous roots, which the artist adopts and shapes as an identity constant in his works. Just as Uruguayan painter Joaquín Torres García, who proclaimed the principles towards an entirely American new language with roots in pre-Hispanic cultures did. During the fifties and sixties, with the abstract trend he participated in international art competitions representing Colombia at the side of artists like Alejandro Obregón, Fernando Botero, Guillermo Wiedeman, Enrique Grau and Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar. These elite historically represents in a paradigmatic sense, the birth of Modern Art in Colombia.

He’s also recognized in Colombia as the only exponent of the Fantastic Realism in plastic arts, a genre he cultivated during over two decades, after having left abstraction at the early seventies.

Outstanding exhibitions include the one at the Basel (Switzerland) International Fair in 1984, Seoul (South Korea) where he was invited by the Dankook University as the first individual sample a South-American artist did as an exponent of the Fantastic Realism in plastic arts; Tokyo and New York, among others. During two years starting 1984, he held the Director of the National School of Fine Arts position at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá. In 1986 he travels to Santa Marta (Colombia) because of tight family links. There, moved by the solemnity of San Pedro Alejandrino’s environment, he visualizes the possibility of paying a homage to Liberator Simón Bolívar right in the place he had died, thus becoming the promoter, founder and first director of a museum with participation from the most select and representative of the plastic arts from the Bolivarian countries, today Bolivarian Contemporary Art Museum of Santa Marta, Colombia.

He has received outstanding distinctions for his contributions to Latin-American culture, and his works are kept in several particular collections, as well as in national and international museums, such as those in Israel, Sweden, Argentina, Brazil, Caracas, Mexico, New York, Washington, the Pan American Union, the Art Institute in Chicago, and the Contemporary Art Museum in Lima, Peru.

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