Thursday, September 27, 2012

Portrait of Quito from the Plaza of the Chapel of Man

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  When we arrived in Quito neither Jane nor I had heard of Oswaldo Guayasamin. I took it as a sign of my ignorance, but I'm learning it is an ignorance widely shared in the English-speaking world. I don't know why. His paintings are visceral and feel authentic, emanating like music from the Quechua culture in which he grew up. They seem natural companions to works by Picasso and Diego Rivera and others.  

The Chapel of Man is a large, circular exhibition space surrounding an eternal flame and topped with a decorated cupola. It was designed by Guayasamin (trained as an architect) to hold and display his paintings.  The scale of the works and the space and the silence inside is expansive. That silence surrounds giant faces and hands that wait, hope, pray, cringe, yearn, rage, console, sometimes wail silently from all around us. It is painting on the scale of grand opera. It is soulful music.

After the gift shop we found ourselves back out on the plaza of the Chapel of Man, and this was our view over Quito, close enough to touch and big enough to get lost in.