(Peruvian, b. 1925)
    Casa Ocho Orantia, 1966
    Oil on canvas
    47-1/2 x 47-1/2 inches (120.7 x 120.7 cm)
    Signed lower right: Szyszlo
    Titled and dated verso: Casa-Ocho / Orantia / 78

    I believe that if some day we are to achieve our identity, both as painters and as a human group, this will come to pass in the degree that we commit ourselves not only to our individual and collective destiny, but also to the heritage of our past and to our present reality.

    - Fernando de Szyszlo

    Born in Peru, de Szyszlo studied painting and architecture at the School of Fine Arts of the Catholic University in Lima. He began his artistic career as a figural painter, but after studying in Europe he embraced abstraction completely. According to the scholar Jacqueline Barnitz, de Szyszlo saw in abstraction a means to assert a cultural identity distinct from that of the United States and other Western countries. When the first exhibition of de Szyszlo's abstract work was held in his native Peru, it created a great social controversy and was met with hostility from his fellow countrymen. Although he would later be regarded as one of the most influential artists in establishing a contemporary Peruvian artistic identity, his work was originally labeled as violent, disgusting, and anti-Peruvian.

    De Szyszlo utilized abstract forms in order to symbolize the pre-Columbian history of Peru, earning his style the nickname abstract nativism. He looked to the ancient textiles, ceramics, architecture, and mythology of the indigenous Peruvian people for inspiration; reinterpreting this shared cultural heritage within a modern context. De Szyszlo's work references the aesthetics of Peruvian handicrafts through its texture, color, and form. His canvases also incorporate more tangible influences such as the Cubist adobe houses and figural totems of the pre-Columbian era. De Szyszlo's non-representational canvases are organic, featuring a vibrant palette that energizes his highly tonal paintings. The French critic Guy Marester wrote, "There is nothing dry or impoverished about de Szyszlo's work; it is rich in sensitivity and mystery."

    During his later career, de Szyszlo has been a visiting professor at Cornell University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Yale University. He served as an advisor to the visual arts division of the Pan-American Union of the Organization of American States, now the Museum of Modern Art of Latin America in Washington, D.C. His work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennial, the São Paulo Biennial, the Carnegie Museum, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

    Condition Report*:

    Overall very good condition:  small paint chip in bottom purple circle.

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2009
    3rd Wednesday
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