Bolivia, the forgotten beauty

20 juillet 2017

From Buenos Aires and Bogotá to São Paulo, the South-American art scene is rich in talents and creativity. But what about Bolivian artists? La Paz and Sucre have nothing to be ashamed of, several painters coming from Bolívar’s country exist on the world stage.

The pioneer, María Luisa Pacheco

Considered as the pioneer and the greatest contemporary bolivian artists, María Luisa Mariaca Dietrich de Pacheco was born in 1919 in La Paz. Daughter of an architect, she discover Art thanks to her father and perfects herself in the Academia de Bellas Artes Hernando Siles  in her home town. In 1948, she gets in the newspaper La Razón as an illustrator and publisher for the literary section. She leaves the national daily paper in 1951, and profiting from a government grant she carries on her studies in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando de Madrid taking classes from the Spanish Cubic painter Daniel Vazquez Diaz. Back in La Paz in 1952, she goes back to the Academia de Bellas Artes Hernando Siles as a teacher. After working on the Bolivian aboriginal figurative style, representing Altiplano landscapes and native peoples, she adopts an abstract style, under the influence of d'Antoni Tápies and founds an avant-garde group called “Eight contemporary artists” or “Class 52”. 

In 1953, her artwork "Plantation" wins the first price of the La Paz painting contest. She leaves her husband, Victor Pacheco and decides to settle permanently in New York City with her children. Successively recipient of 3 research grants given by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, María Luisa Pacheco also has several pieces of art bought by the famous New York foundation. Her paintings are cubist, abstract or figurative but they all are inspired from the Aymara and Quechua people culture or women’s lives in rural areas, on glaciers and mountains of the Andes chain from her precious Bolivia. Her work is then the subject of several prizes, such as the first Prize of the São Paulo biennale in 1959 and she participates in more than a hundred of exhibitions in America and Europe. In 1982, at the age of 63, María Luisa Pacheco took her last breath in New York City, leaving behind her a lasting impression as well for both Bolivian and international Art.

Jorge Carrasco, Berry's Michelangelo

In the heart of the Indre, stands Le Menoux, 400 souls at most. A small village like thousands of others in France. But Le Menoux, is not like any other. In the midst of its small picturesque streets the Notre-Dame du Menoux Church can be found, genuine tourist attraction in the area bringing visitors from around the world, fully decorated with contemporary murals executed by Jorge Carrasco. On the parish walls nicknamed "La Chapelle Sixtine du Berry", this bolivian artist painted the Nature positive and negative forces. A dreamlike décor made between 1968 and 1976 that the artist started with this sentence “Here is a wonderful blank canvas that we should cover”.  

But Jorge Carrasco is not a simple painter; he’s also an artist who gained notoriety thanks to his famous sculptures. Like Luisa Pacheco, Carrasco was born in La Paz in 1919. Like her, after being interested in art really young, he studies it in the Academia de Bellas Artes Hernando Siles de La Paz. After, he became a teacher and board to Brazil in 1953 where he is exhibited in the São Paulo Biennale next to Picasso and Matisse before making huge murals on the sugar production in Rio de Janeiro. The next year, he discovers Europe through Genoa and Venice where, as a representative of Bolivia, he participates in the Biennale. He then travels through Spain, Sweden, England, Germany, Switzerland, United-States and then France where he settles down in Le Menoux in 1968. During 38 years in the Indre, apart from the voluntary work on the Notre-Dame Church mural, Carrasco is a precious stone sculptor. From the dark Swedish granite and the classic Carre marble, to Rhodes ivory, Argentinian onyx and the coarse Sicilian lava, sculptures of Carrasco nurtures the imperfect geometric art. Deceased in Le Menoux in 2006 at 87 surrounded by his family, Jorge Carrasco has managed to make a small village in the Indre as famous as the Nuestra Señora de la Paz.

The last wave, Graciela Rodo Boulanger

Most famous Bolivian artist in the art world, Graciela Rodo Boulanger hold high the banner of Bolívar’s country.Like his illustrious elders, Graciela Rodo Boulanger was born in La Paz in 1935. Diving from her earliest childhood in the artistic world thanks to her mother, musician of her state and her father businessman and Art connoisseur. She first became interested in the piano and soon fell into painting. A graduate of the Academia de Bellas Artes de Santiago de Chile, she began to refine her musical knowledge in Austria, Salzburg and Vienna, in the world music capital. In the country of Klimt and Schiele, she took the opportunity to exhibit her first paintings at the age of 18 in the gallery Strohkoffer in 1953. Back in La Paz, she met Claude Boulanger, young French diplomat, She will marry later. At the age of 22, she completely abandoned music and thrown herself  heart and soul into painting, as a certain Goya has done at one time. The notoriety came to her in 1979 when she was designated by UNICEF as the official artist of the International Year of Childhood.

She was then part of the crown heads of the retrospective organized in 1983 by the Museum of Modern Art of Latin America in Washington DC. In 1986, the Metropolitan Opera of New York commissioned her a poster for Mozart's Magic Flute. Her artistic value is fully recognized when she publishes etching, which René Carcan and Johnny Friedlaender taught her to do at numerous exhibitions in the United States. Over the years, she has participated in more than 170 exhibitions all over the world. Taking the Bolivian torch of Pacheco and Carrasco, Rodo Boulanger can now pass it on to the new generation represented by Sonia Montero Falcone or Roberto Mamani Mamani.

Alfredo Lopez, western allegory

Born in Bolivia, Alfredo Lopez spent his entire childhood on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in Spain. After working in graphic and web design, in illustration and comics, he devoted himself entirely to his passion: painting. Totally inscribed in his time, Alfredo Lopez's work draws its inspiration and its roots in our daily life. He likes to celebrate the ordinary, and his favorite subject of study is the Western Man. He sublimates ordinary and unimportant acts by representing them as accomplished in elation, joy, and good humor. His works are allegories of various themes: pleasure, work, the business world, love, intoxication ... These everyday narratives, especially in the West, are characterized by their ever-bright colors and place Central and imposing character on the canvas. Alfredo Lopez works on various medium such as canvas, Plexiglas and even mannequins while keeping the drawing as a basic technique. Lopez's career has taken on an international twist in recent years, where he alternates between personal and collective exhibitions while offering the same colorful vision of these simple everyday figures.