Monday, November 25, 2013

Ecuador's Galo Galecio: A Printmaker of the People

The name Galo Galecio Taranto (1906 - 1993) is important in Ecuadoran art circles, although he didn’t receive much notoriety outside of his homeland. He was, however, a renowned painter, sculptor, caricaturist and, for the purposes of this article, an amazingly wonderful printmaker. Unfortunately, I have only been able to find a scant amount of information about this artist, but his images will compensate for whatever text may be lacking.
After studying at the School of Fine Arts in Guayaquil with the Spanish artist José María Roura Oxandaberro (1925-1930), Galecio received a scholarship from the Ministry of Education to make a specialized study of printmaking and mural painting at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Mexico (from 1944-1946). It was there that he studied with the famous muralist Diego Rivera, and became friends with David Alfaro Siqueiros. He also became a member of the famous printmaking workshop, Taller de Gráfica Popular and he studied printmaking.
One of Galecio’s first print portfolios was ‘Bajo la Linea del Ecuador’, which became one of his most important works. It was a portfolio created in 1946, comprised of 31 images, which depicted tropical landscape scenes of village life from Ecuador’s coastal towns. He used the tropical landscape as a backdrop to show the living and working conditions of his countrymen, whom he felt had been forgotten.
Galecio's prints are direct and forceful. There is also a sort of dreamy quality in them, as only someone who knows life in the tropics could understand. He created poignant life portraits, full of sentiment and expressive gesture. He captures the strength, perseverance and spirit of the hardworking, suffering people of his Ecuadorian land, particularly the indigenous and black portion of the population. Their daily grind to work the fields and fish the sea, bring products to market and toil under the hot sun isn't glamorized any more than the works of the French working class that Courbet and Millais strove to make real in the 19th century. Galecio's simple and somber tone, as found in the faces of the people in the last image of this article, bear their life's struggle that was prevalent in Ecuador.
The force of his images makes Galecio one of the greatest Expressionist and Realist artists in Ecuador from the 1930s to 1950s. In 1987, Galecio was awarded Ecuador's most prestigious prize "Premio Eugenio Espejo" for his lifetime’s achievement in the arts.
Galecio’s work is included in numerous international collections, including three color prints in the Museum of Modern Art, NY.

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