Oswaldo Vigas (Venezuelan, 1923 – 2014). Asmodé, 1970. Oil on canvas, 39.37 x 31.49 in. Courtesy of Oswaldo Vigas Foundation

For Immediate Release

GRAM Presents Oswaldo Vigas: Transformations

GRAM organizes first solo exhibition in U.S. by leading South American modernist

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., May 2, 2018 – The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) announced today the opening of Oswaldo Vigas: Transformations, an exhibition celebrating one of South America’s most ambitious and independent modern artists. Organized by GRAM, the exhibition will be on view at the Museum from May 19 through September 2, 2018.

This exhibition is Oswaldo Vigas’ first solo North American museum exhibition and includes works spanning 40 years. The paintings and drawings on view show how Vigas regularly transformed the look and style of his work while consistently focusing on spiritual and emotional issues, as well as his firm belief that art can connect people across time and distance.

Though he took part in more than one hundred museum exhibitions in South America and France, Vigas also sought to be recognized in the United States,” commented GRAM Chief Curator, Ron Platt. We are proud to be the first U.S. museum to explore this fascinating artist’s contribution to 20th century modernism. This is the first exhibition outside of Venezuela to examine the inter­re­la­tion­ship of the artist’s painting and drawing process, which truly is a continuous creative thread. Transformations is a selective representation of how Vigas’ paintings and drawings inform each other organically and coexist as a holistic entity.”

The Venezuelan artist drew on a broad mixture of sources and stylistic approaches for his art, mingling indigenous South American traditions with Western modernism into a distinct personal language. The exhibition begins with early figurative works which introduce recurring female figures from early Venezuelan mythology, moving to his explorations of geometric form and color in the vein of his murals at the University City of Caracas (a World Heritage site), and finally to later paintings in which the pre-Hispanic women re-emerge in a vigorously expressive style.

For Vigas, the spontaneity of drawing enabled him to get his ideas on paper, making it the source of his visual thinking. The imagery of Vigas’ paintings derive directly from the drawing process, whether from works he considered finished, or the experimental sketches he was constantly creating.

Born and raised in Valencia, Venezuela, Oswaldo Vigas (1923 — 2014) was largely a self-taught artist. As a young man he attended medical school, graduating with a degree in Pediatrics. He ceased practicing medicine in 1952 to devote himself fully to making art. That year, he moved to Paris, where he immersed himself in the city’s stimulating post-war art scene. After twelve years there, he returned permanently to Venezuela, establishing a reputation as one of the continent’s pre-eminent artists, and exhibiting regularly in museums across Latin America and in Europe.

Today’s art world is being reinvigorated by a serious reexamination of the art history of the twentieth century,” added GRAM Director and CEO, Dana Friis-Hansen. Those who were part of the modernist conversation were marginalized over the years and are now being recognized for their important contributions. Part of this reassessment is an examination and embrace of Latin Americans such as Oswaldo Vigas. In Vigas’ rich and powerful work you can follow his perpetual reinvention and fresh perspective on classic modernism as seen through a Latin American lens.”

Oswaldo Vigas: Transformations will provide the opportunity to engage with one of South America’s leading modern artists in an intimate way. The works in the show speak to the personal experience of Vigas’s Venezuelan origins, as well as to his fusion of contemporary concerns with the timeless ideas evoked by the pre-Columbian artifacts and objects that fueled his art.

Concurrent main exhibitions on view during Oswaldo Vigas: Transformations is Anila Quayyum Agha: Intersections and Mirror Variations: The Art of Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (May 19 — August 26, 2018).

Oswaldo Vigas: Transformations is organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum and made possible by the Oswaldo Vigas Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the GRAM Exhibition Society. A fully-illustrated catalogue will be published in conjunction with the exhibition.

About the Oswaldo Vigas Foundation
The Oswaldo Vigas Foundation was created in 2010 to preserve and promote the legacy of the artist. The mission of the Foundation includes collaborating on exhibitions and publications, as well as cataloguing and maintaining the Vigas archives and artworks. Among its recent projects, the Foundation organized the major exhibition, Oswaldo Vigas. Anthological 1943 – 2013, which traveled to some of South America’s most important cities, including Santiago, Chile; Bogotá, Colombia; Lima, Peru and Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 2018 the Foundation will publish a monograph on Vigas’s 70-year career. For more information, visit oswaldovigas.com.

About the Grand Rapids Art Museum
Connecting people through art, creativity, and design. Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the Art Museum is internationally known for its distinguished design and LEED® Gold certified status. Established in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include more than 5,000 works of art, including American and European 19th and 20th century painting and sculpture and more than 3,000 works on paper. Embracing the city’s legacy as a leading center of design and manufacturing, GRAM has a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft.

For GRAM’s hours and admission fees, visit artmuseumgr.org or call 616.831.1000.

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