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Fernando De Szyszlo (Peru) bio

Posted by Mark Schneider on February 29, 2012 1 Comment

Fernando de Szyszlo was a key figure in advancing abstract art in Latin America in the mid-fifties. Born in Lima in 1925, Szyszlo studied at the School of Plastic Arts of the Catholic University of Lima.
Fernando de Szyszlo at Associated American Artists - New York, New York - Review of Exhibitions

At the age of 24 he traveled to Europe where he studied the works of the masters, particularly Rembrandt, Titian and Tintoretto, and absorbed the varied influences of cubism, surrealism, informalism and abstraction. While in Paris he met Octavio Paz and Andre Breton and frequented the group of writers and intellectuals that met regularly at the Cafe Flore engaging in vigorous discussions on how they could participate in the international modern movement while preserving their Latin American cultural identity. Upon his return to Peru, Szyszlo became a major force for artistic renewal in his country breaking new ground by expressing a Peruvian subject matter in a non-representational style.

Lyricism of color enriched by rich textural effects and a masterly handling of light and shadow are hallmarks of Szyszlo's painting. Highly identified with the linking of ancient cultures to a modernist artistic language, Szyszlo's art reflects a broad culture that draws on many sources from philosophy and science to literature. His evocative allusions to rituals, myths, and the geography of sea and desert landscapes are often associated with pre-Columbian sacred sites. Since his first solo exhibit in Lima in 1947, Szyszlo has had over 100 individual exhibitions in museums and galleries in Latin America, Europe and the United States and has participated in the prestigious international biennials of Sao Paulo and Venice. His work is represented in important public and private collections throughout the world.

Art in America,  March, 1995  by Gerrit Henry

Fernando de Szyszlo was born in Lima in 1925 to a Polish naturalist and his Peruvian wife. In 1943, he entered architecture school, but abandoned plans to follow that profession and enrolled in the School of Plastic Arts at the Catholic University in his home city, an institution devoted to Peruvian culture. Szyszlo experimented with Surrealism and Cubism while maintaining a strong interest in the arts of his homeland, especially those of the ancient Chancay culture, its textiles and other decorative artifacts, as well as its deep-rooted rituals and mythologies.

and, Szyszlo found himself--not by accident--in postwar Paris before he was 30. There he further explored Surrealism (as a confrere of Andre Breton and the poet Octavio Paz) while meeting regularly with expatriate Latin American artists and writers at the Cafe Flore. His early paintings on cloth blended Chancay and Surrealist influences; a little later on, Szyszlo took up the informel style of such abstractionists as Pierre Soulages and Hans Hartung.

After immersing himself in more traditional European art in Florence for a year, the painter returned to Peru in 1955, where he pursued an internationalist, rather than native, style and content. During the '50s and '60s, while a professor at Catholic University, where he taught until 1977, Szyszlo began to establish the themes which would dominate his career to the present day, including his "Casa" and "Paisaje" (landscape) series. "Interiors," a 1972 series of gouaches and watercolors in which the artist fused European internationalist trends with his native lyrical or sometimes almost funereal temperament, marked a turning point.

More notes on Szyszlo:

Fernando de Szyszlo is one of the foremost artists to emerge from post-world war Latin America. Szyszlo's art hovers in the twilight between figuration and abstraction. His paintings evoke the still, monumental, power of Pre-Hispanic forms, while at the same time suggesting the dynamic, often violent, energies at their poetic and spiritual core. The darker energies of Szyszlo's art, are counterbalanced by his love of texture, color, and pattern. The tendency towards decoration is rooted in Szyszlo's appreciation of Pre-Hispanic textiles. Whatever the imagery of a particular painting, whether moving towards figuration or abstraction, or refusing to make the distinction, the drama under-pinning Szyszlo's painting is invariably centered in the tensions of physical and spiritual transformation, death and erotic ritual.

Szyszlo was born in Lima, Peru; his mother was Peruvian of Spanish-Indian descent, and his father a geographer from Poland. He lived in Paris and Florence from 1948 to 1955, and then returned to Peru. In 1962, he became a professor of art at Cornell University. In 1965 he became a visiting lecturer at Yale University. He first exhibited in 1947. His most recent museum exhibition was in 2005 at Palacio de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires. He currently resides in Lima.

Szyszlo has exhibited at many important venues worldwide, among them: the Venice Biennial; the Sao Paolo Biennial; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Art Institute, Chicago; and Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City.

Comments (1 Comment)

I believe I have purchased from you before. Could you send me photos and prices for current Szyszlo work you have?
Thank you, Andrew

Posted by andrew gold on November 27, 2015

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