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    Sale 2054

    Latin American Sale Evening Session

    19 - 20 November 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 30

    Fernando de Szyszlo (Peruvian b. 1925)

    Runa Macii

    Price Realised  


    Fernando de Szyszlo (Peruvian b. 1925)
    Runa Macii
    signed 'Szyszlo' (lower right)--inscribed with titled and dated 'RUNA MACII, Villa 71' (on the reverse)
    acrylic on canvas
    59 x 47 1/8 in. (150 x 119.6 cm.)
    Painted in 1971.

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    Fernando de Szyszlo played a crucial role in advancing abstraction in Latin American art in the 1950s. Born in Lima in 1925, Szyszlo grew up when Indigenism, the embrace and representation of local landscapes and people, dominated artistic expression in Peru. At an early age, however, Szyszlo rejected the tenets of the Indigenists and helped found the group Agrupación Espacio that championed modernist art and architecture. Drawn to the work of the European avant-garde, Szyszlo left Peru in 1949 to broaden his artistic education in Paris. While there, he met such cultural luminaries as Octavio Paz and André Breton and studied Cubism, Surrealism and Informalism. Szyszlo's encounter with these foreign idioms, however, led him back to his roots; he began combining the principles of European modernisms with veiled references to Peru's pre-Columbian past. Upon returning home, Szyszlo developed his signature style creating dynamic, non-representational canvases that pulsate with light and shadow, color contrasts and rich surface textures. First exhibited in Lima in the early 1950s, these vigorous paintings had an electrifying effect on the city's cultural milieu prompting many artists there to explore the possibilities of abstraction.

    In this untitled work, Szyszlo illustrates his ability to evoke form while still maintaining a nonfigurative style. An architectonic structure stands against a blank background suggesting the stone stelae inscribed with intricate pictographs found at Peru's archeological sites and alluded to in many of Szyszlo's images. Yet, this mysterious totem defies easy interpretation. Szyszlo presents an object of oppositions with soft dissolving brushstrokes counterbalanced by sharp protrusions, where rounded shapes collide with hard-edged angles and somber gray is punctuated by intense red. A composite of perplexing complexities, Szyszlo's stone continuously intrigues and invites the viewer to both contemplate and experience the work. As renowned critic Mario Vargas Llosa astutely observed with regard to Szyszlo's paintings, "Something is always happening in them, something that is more than form and color: a spectacle that is difficult to describe although not to feel."(1)

    Diana Bramham.

    1) M. Vargas Llosa, "Szyszlo in the Labyrinth," Making Waves, London, Faber and Faber, 1996) 269.


    Private collection, Puerto Rico.
    Anon. sale, Christie's, New York, 24 November 1992, lot 101 (illustrated in color).
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.


    Exhibition catalogue, A Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings by the Peruvian Artist Fernando de Szyszlo, New York, Center for Inter-American Relations, 1972, no. 24 (illustrated in color).


    San Juan, Galería El Morro, 1971.
    San Juan, Museo de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Szyszlo, November- December 1971.
    New York, Center for Inter-American Relations, A Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings by the Peruvian Artist Fernando de Szyszlo, September- October 1972, no. 24.
    Bogotá, Museo de Arte Moderno, December 1972.
    Mexico City, Museo de Arte Moderno, January 1973.