The paradigm of economic globalization is sharpening the historical processes of social marginalization of the indigenous peoples. Meanwhile, in the cultural arena, a process of “homogenization” is beginning, which attempts to undermine the pluricultural identity of the continent, ignoring the fact that the construction of modern citizenship involves the challenge of reconciling the historical and cultural specific features of each community with world development and modernity. What does this mean? This mean that in the realm of global cultural politics, artists and individuals from peripheral countries (i.e. those not from the "first-world") are more often than not overlooked and unknown outside of a limited regional context. When is that last time you bought a CD from a musician based in Burkina Faso or Estonia? Often the cultural dominance of a particular country, or group of countries, follows their global political and economic dominance.
One of those underappreciated in the canon of the arts is Oswaldo Guayasamín, an Ecuadorean artist who dedicated his life to painting, sculpting, collecting, fighting injustice and adulating the virtues of the Cuban Revolution in general and Fidel Castro in particular. He was given a prize for "an entire life of work for peace" by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The magnificent work of Oswaldo Guayasamin, whose images capture the political oppression, racism, poverty, and class division found in much of South America. His death on March 10 1999 was marked by a day of national strikes by the indigenous people (whom he spent his life supporting) and other sectors of society, and was considered a great loss to Ecuador.
Once the home and studio of Ecuador's most famous modern artist, his spacious museum in Bellavista, a northern residential area of Quito, now houses an extensive collection of the artist's own work, from the beginning of his 'career' at the age of 7, right up until his death in 1999. He is famous for his abstract humanist works, that both reflect and denounce the violence of the 20th century with its world wars, civil wars, genocide, concentration camps, dictatorships, and tortures. Sadly, not much is known of this artist here in the United States, or many others from Latin America, Africa and other developing regions of the world. Often finding the best of the best requires a little more searching beyond the conventional.
"Hay un único lugar donde ayer y hoy se encuentran y se reconocen y se abrazan. Ese lugar es mañana"