Category: Guatemala.

Central American historical city gets a new sculpture park

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A work by Guatemalas premier sculptor, Efrain Recinos is seen in a new sculpture park in the former colonial city La Antigua Guatemala, in Guatemala.

GUATEMALA CITY — Surrounded by volcanoes, La Antigua Guatemala is Central America’s most visited ancient colonial city, both by locals and outsiders, because of its rich historic and architectural heritage. Now it has something different to offer visitors — a modern art park featuring works by Guatemala’s premier sculptor Efrain Recinos as well as other artists.

The colonial city, established in 1543 as the seat of the general captaincy of the kingdom of Guatemala, does not cease to offer new attractions. Not only are historic buildings, prized for their architecture, rehabilitated, and the Spanish-era colonial past kept alive, but authorities also launch other kinds of cultural projects, such as the Efrain Recinos Sculpture Park, on top of Santo Domingo hill.

La Antigua Guatemala already offers history, art and many legends. Just 40 kilometers from Guatemala City, and 1,530 meters above sea level, La Antigua’s climate is ideal.

Cascades of bougainvillea can be seen all year round and the region produces one of the world’s best high-altitude coffees. Impressive buildings leave no doubt about the city’s past splendor.

Originally named Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, the city competed in grandeur with Mexico City, Lima and Quito.

Its more than 50 stone churches and convents and elegant houses led to La Antigua’s being included in 1979 in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites.

Not even powerful earthquakes, especially those that struck in 1717 and 1773 were able to strip the city of its charm. To the contrary, churches and convents left in ruins on purpose emanate magic and mystery as they lie at the foot of the Agua volcano, which is no longer active.

New projects can only add to La Antigua’s beauty. The Efrain Recinos Sculpture Park is the latest one to grace the site, born of a partnership between businessman Jorge Castaneda, architect Amerigo Giracca and artist Efrain Recinos. Still being developed, the sculpture garden on the Santo Domingo hill displays pieces by Recinos and other artists like Carlos Merida, Roberto Gonzalez Goyri, Mariadolores Castellanos and Luis Diaz. The sculptures by Recinos are the main attraction of the park named after him.

This great Guatemalan muralist, sculptor, engineer and architect, who among many other buildings designed the Miguel Angel Asturias National Theatre in Guatemala City, is taken aback by all the attention.

“I never thought this project would materialize. I feel a bit ashamed that it’s named after me,” he said.

Recinos believes that museums should not only be in cities, surrounded by cement. “I love it that the works are surrounded by vegetation, in a forest. I think this is the most important thing about this project.”

Speaking in his workshop in the National Theatre, surrounded by drawings, paintings, projects and notebooks he uses to write down his ideas each and every day, Recinos showed the sketches of murals on communication he prepared 40 years ago for a competition, and they were never made. Those sketches are now becoming a reality, because Recinos is creating 10 mosaic murals, using small tiles, mostly blue-colored ones, for the sculpture park.

The murals focus on communication in all of its forms throughout time beginning with drums and including carrier pigeons, the telegraph, radio, and television. To his original design showing telecommunication satellites, Recinos recently added a cellular phone being held by a Guatemalan woman seated on a globe. Previously, she was holding a torch.

There’s one panel still to be designed, and Recinos said coyly that it will depict, “The oldest form of communication and the most intimate: the kiss.”

Recinos’ most compelling piece on the Santo Domingo hill is an enormous metal sculpture based on an old Volkswagen Beetle (that belonged to him during the time the National Theatre was being built, from 1971 to 1978) and showing a large-eyed, shapely-legged Guatemalan woman, or “Guatemalita,” a leitmotif in his work.

There are very few artists in Guatemala like Efrain Recinos, whose art allows this troubled nation to rise above the daily violence afflicting it through the power of peace and creativity.

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Category: Guatemala