The Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man) is a gallery that showcases the artwork of Oswaldo Guayasamín, who was a Quechua Indian, and master painter and sculptor. Sadly, he passed away in 1999 before his gallery was completed in 2002.
The two-story building does not have all the pieces that Guayasamin completed, but presents a good variety that allows you to get the full effect of this man’s brilliant style and legacy.
The museum is open Tuesdays through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Cost of admission was pretty steep when my friends and I went but we managed to get in for $2 USD, which is the price for students, even without any identification. I believe that speaking Spanish definitely aided in our mission for the lower price.
After a friend’s death during a demonstration in Quito, Guayasamin’s artwork soon turned into the expression of the people and world that he lived in. Eventually, his travels throughout Latin America provided him with a vision that translated onto the palette’s where his brush stroked.
La Capilla del Hombre became a dedication to the Latin American people. Guayasamin painted their emotions in series and solo pieces filled with all sorts of shades and colors.
At the bottom of the museum there is an area where you can purchase Guayasamin’s artwork. Some are re-prints whereas others are originals at an extremely great investment price. Everyone was pretty much getting their hands on some piece of his work to take home with them. The hardest part was deciding which one because they are all truly breath-taking and thought-provoking masterpieces.
You can see the pain in each of the unique, individual faces. I think the brilliance of his work shows in the fact that Guayasamin could use whatever colors he wanted (i.e. blue, orange, yellow) in the faces of his subjects and yet, your eyes and heart immediately see and feel the emotions he is portraying. The positioning of the bodies was enough to set the tone of the painting. One mural that continues to come to mind is the white, skeletal bodies against the black backdrop reaching for the circular light shining down upon them. It is one of the most memorable because it is painted on the inside of the cylinder cone on the ceiling, where the circular hole is open toward the sky, as if to say their souls are reaching toward heaven.
The museum was built on the grounds of Guayasamin’s estate. Visitors can walk up to his house that overlooks Quito and the Pichincha mountain range. In the corner of the grass yard is a tree. He planted and cared for it. Upon Guayasamin’s request, his ashes were buried beneath the leaves and branches of the tree on March 10, 1999.
The day of his death, an archaeological excavation found a 1,000 year-old Pre-Inca ship, along with 13 tombs. A museum was set up to preserve the indigenous artifacts and educate the public.
Though he may have passed, Guayasamin’s artwork continues to live on revealing the lives of the Latin people and the land from which he was born.
Beneath his paintings are the anecdotes of the past.