Oswaldo Vigas (1923 Valencia, Venezuela – 2014 Caracas, Venezuela) was one of the most prominent Latin-American avant garde artists. He actively helped to shape the cultural life in his country and played a key role in the Parisian art scene between 1952 and 1964.
Profusely inspired by the origin of life, the Venezuelan landscape, its history and mythology and foremost the people surrounding him Oswaldo Vigas chooses the vocation of a painter. His work is rooted in a number of styles, such as cubism, surrealism, constructivism, informalism and neo-figuration, all applied in a personal way. Prompted by a search for his mestizo identity Vigas remains faithful to his own convictions, which leads to an authentic artistic imagery.
Vigas’ examples are great masters like Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin and Paul Cézanne together with anonymous Native American and African artisans. He is the first Venezuelan artist to draw on the country’s forgotten pre-Columbian and African cultural patrimony, interweaving it with European and American modernism. His work therefore can be placed next to that of fellow leading Latin American artists such as Fernando de Szyzslo, Roberto Matta, Wifredo Lam and Rufino Tamayo, who were also strongly committed to the indigenous legacy of their countries. Vigas’ oeuvre is furthermore considered to be an important counterpart to the prevailing geometrical, kinetic and optical art in Venezuela.
The work of Vigas encompasses painting, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics and tapestries. He has made more than one hundred solo exhibitions and his work is present in numerous institutions, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California, USA; the Michigan State University Art Museum, Michigan, USA, the Art Museum of the Americas, OAS, Washington, USA; the Musée Jean Lurçat et de la Tapisserie Contemporaine, Angers, France; the Musée Des Beaux Arts D'Angers, France; the Musée Des Beaux Arts. Reims, France; the Museum of Modern Art in Bogotá, Colombia; the Museum of Contemporary Art El Minuto de Dios, Bogotá, Colombia; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Lima, Peru; the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile, Chile; the Ralli Museum, Punta del Este, Uruguay; the Avon Collection, New York, USA; as well as in public and private collections all around the world.
Oswaldo Vigas made a commitment with art and with a life he spent in his atelier, in different countries and with his family. He died in Caracas on April 22nd, 2014.
Today, the Foundation that bears his name continues the work undertaken by him before his death, a traveling exhibition “Oswaldo Vigas. Antológica 1943-2013” a comprehensive survey that features the most representative works by the artist, tracking his artistic evolution from 1943 to 2013. This itinerant exhibition, shown in Santiago, Lima and Bogotá in the past year, continues to conquer new territories throughout the Americas and is soon heading to the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil in April 2016 and (TBA) other cities in the USA.