Artist Biography: Diógenes Paredes Castillo was born on May 5th / 1910 in Tulcán city, located in the province of Carchi, Ecuador.
When he was 19 years old he started to be really interested in painting and decided to study at the “Bellas Artes” School in Quito, where he later became a teacher and director. His left ideology led him to have communist tendencies and also to be atheist.
In 1938 Paredes founded the “Sindicato de Escritores y Artistas del Ecuador” (Labor Union of Writers and Artists of Ecuador) with Jorge Icaza, Benjamín Carrión, Eduardo Kingman, Demetrio Aguilera, and some others. Kingman called this labor union like “an identification with the worker community, because we are considered just like workers situated in the field of culture”.
One of the most important activities organized by the Union Labor was, “Los Salones de Mayo” (the May Salons), where many paintings of urban landscapes as well as social or indigenous themes were exhibited. Paredes also exhibited two of his famous paintings: “El Cargador y Los Pondos” (the shipper and the water carriers) which represented the life of the indigenous people in the country side. One of the typical pattern strongly handled was the one that leagued the man with the ground, that according to the critique both of them formed an inseparable unity.
In 1944 The Union Labor of Writers and Artists of Ecuador did not work anymore and the Ecuadorian House of Culture was created. The first art impulsion given by this one was the creation of “Los Salones Nacionales de Artes Plásticas” (National Salons of Plastic Art). After few years Paredes won the First Prize in the “First Salon of Plastic Art), and for this reason the House of Culture told him and José Enrique Guerrero to take charge of the painting of the walls located in the lobby of the new building of the Institution in “La Plaza de Mayo”.
In 1946 he traveled to France, awarded with a scholarship granted by the French government where he studied at the “Bellas Artes” School in Paris. Some years later he was invited by governments of those countries and visited the Republics in the East Europe, the Soviet Union and the Communist China.
Paredes, as member of the Communist Party had was always worried about claiming the social injustice and the exploitation of the indigenous through his paintings. During the period where the “Cold war” imposed anti-communist tendencies in all Latin America, Paredes preferred to leave his job than his ideas. Since then he was only devoted to the painting.
The approchement of Paredes to the indigenous people was reached by following the contemporary line of Alfred Schutz. The indigenous tendency of Diógenes Paredes is the construction of the situation of the indigenous people. This one is taken from the glance or look of the urban “mestizo” of medium level which enroll a stigma in the body of the dominated indigenous, seen not as a whole human being but as an insignificant and undervalued person.
The work of Paredes about the identity of the indigenous people is mainly focused in the deformity of their bodies. The marks that are used to create his pictorial universe are: faces with boned cheek bones, deformity of the extremities, bitter appearance, lost glance, fierced eyes, frowned frown and enlargement of hands and feet, usually covered with rags and submerged until their knees with mud. In his work the ochre and gray colors are used a lot as well as binding. Paredes tried to represent the indigenous people like helpless and miserable human beings who suffer the exploitation and the abandon of the national society. They are also considered like people that exhibit their marks of contempt in order to reach the recognition of the society, showing themselves as fair people that tend to the equality and social improvement.
In the beginning this deformation was not only seen like a expressionist value but also like an interchange with the reality of the indigenous.
Through his paintings Paredes has been able to give a visual form to the social, scientific and political speech around the indigenous people.
Since 1950 that tendency changed due to a bigger approval for a kind of art that does not claim about the exploitation and the abuse, a kind of art that neither stigmatizes nor deforms the body of the indigenous race. For this reason Paredes will focus later his work on the man of the coast side and his natural environment. He will also dedicate part of his production to portraits and landscapes but he will not give up to the indigenous theme.
When Paredes died in 1968, he left a limited production of his work because many of his paintings have disappeared or it is not known where they are. He was always a very generous man, so he used to give his paintings as presents without registering them.
1942 Second Prize of Painting, “Salón Mariano Aguilera.” in Quito - Ecuador. 1945 First Prize in the “Salón Nacional de Artes Plásticas” organized by the House of Culture in Quito - Ecuador. 1947 First Prize of Painting, “Salón Mariano Aguilera” in Quito – Ecuador. 1948 First Prize “IV Salón de Mayo” in Quito - Ecuador. 1964 Gold Medal, “Atelier de Arte” in Quito – Ecuador.
1949 Ecuadorian House of Culture in Quito - Ecuador. 1955 Individual Exhibit in Cuenca - Ecuador.
1946 Collective about Ecuadorian Art in the Unesco Salons in París - Francia. 1953 National Salon of Plastic Arts in Quito - Ecuador. Collective Sample presented in Montevideo - Uruguay. 1954 Collective “Modern and Colonial Art” in Buenos Aires – Argentina. 1958 Exhibit of Ecuadorian Art – Art Museum in Lima – Perú. 1967 Collective “Plastic Testimony of Ecuador” in Quito – Ecuador.
W: 43.3 in (110 cm) H: 35.4 in (90 cm)
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