Visual arts

Paraguayan painting showed its first signs in the last decades of the 19th Century, around the time of the postwar era of the 70s.  Two Italian artists, Guido Boggiani and Héctor Da Ponte introduced academic techniques to the country and formed and important group of Paraguayan artists.

That first generation, whose work matured by the 20th Century into impressionist influences, perfected its knowledge and techniques in Europe and was integrated by the painters Pablo Alborno, Juan A. Samudio, Jaime Bestard and Modesto Delgado Rodas.  Belonging to the same period are Andrés Campos Cervera and Josefina Plá.  Plá, a Spaniard by birth, arrived in 1926, married to the Paraguayan Campos Ververa, from whom she would receive her first lessons and would become a main figure in Paraguayan art, as well as literature and cultural works in its broadest sense. 

Other foreigners like the German Wolf Bandurek, with his paintings resembling expressionism, joined the movement before the 50s, which marked an important innovation in Paraguayan art.  In 1950, the Brazilian teacher Joäo Rossi, who brought the concepts and techniques for contemporary art and formed the bases for creating the group “New Art,” arrived in the country.

The “New Art” group marked a rift between Paraguayan art and standards taught in higher institutions of learning.  The group was created in 1954 and presented the First Week of Modern Paraguayan Art.  It was made up of Josefina Plá, Lilí del Mónico, José Laterza Parodi and Olga Blinder.  Shortly thereafter, Edith Jiménez and Hermann Guggiari united with the artistic movement.

In the 60s and 70s there was a flourishing of plastic arts in Paraguay, with the arrival of artists that knew how to express the deep characteristics of Paraguayan culture.  Carlos Colombino, the plastics artist who has achieved the greatest international recognition, works especially with his “Xilo paintings” that seem to evoke the pain of the great tragedy of mankind.  For his part, another important figure to come on the scene during this time was Ricardo Migliorisi, who painted his period as a great irreverent carnaval.  Ignacio Núñez Soler, Mabel Arcondo and Laura Márquez are other important names from the painting medium.

In 1964, another significant group appears under inspiration from Laura Márquez: Los Novísimos, or the High Innovators, made up of Enrique Careaga, Angel Yegros, José Antonio Pratt Mayans and William Riquelme.

Some years later, the group El Aleph was formed, which brought together Marité Zaldívar, Carlo Spatuzza, Engelberto Jiménez, Fátima Martini, Marcos Benítez, Mónica González and other artists.

The lines of Paraguayan art begin to diffuse with new combinations, like the mixed techniques of Osvaldo Salerno and Bernardo Krasnianksky, and the experimentations of Miguel Heyn, Lucy Yegros and Félix Toranzos.  And painting continues to produce new artists like Genaro Morales and Ysanne Gayet and the expressionist Enrique Collar.

Paraguayan visual arts are arriving at the climax of combined techniques and systems.  In the last five years or so, standout artists include Ofelia Olmedo, Celso Figueredo, Marcelo Medina, Claudia Casarino, Bettina Brizuela, Enrique Espínola and Fredy Casco.  And a core group is now emerging that not only includes artists, but also art critics, gallery owners and people involved with plastic art in general:  “Art People,” who are searching for affirmation and a place for Paraguayan art in a worldwide context.