4th Quarter 2014

In the Studio of Elmar Rojas (b. 1942)

Elmar Rojas embraced the richness of his native land. Like Asturias, he used magical realism to instill his vision of Guatemala into his work. In his skillful hands, the mythical and the mysterious came alive. With a sculptor’s eye, he used expert shading to add dimension to his grim figures.

Rojas was born in Central Guatemala in 1942. In 1957, he began at the National School of Plastic Arts. Here, the seeds of change had blown in from Europe and were taking root. In 1959 his Bird Tale won the first Central American painting prize. In 1960, he studied architecture at the University of San Carlos. That same year he had his first show.

Rojas also found ideas abroad. He studied in Spain, France and Italy. Paris, Madrid and Barcelona especially impressed him. Goya inspired his form. Rembrandt gave him light. He admired and was influenced by Degas, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec and Klee.

In 1969, Rojas founded the Vértebra Group, a band of artists concerned with the painful social realities of the time. The work done by Rojas was abstract, often powerful and unsettling. His paintings sometimes bordered on nightmarish.

In the 70’s, his work became less abstract. His fantastic images and elaborate paintings became more colorful. But darkness always lurked just below the surface. In the 80’s, he did a series featuring scarecrows. Dreamlike and atmospheric, it gave form but no face to some of his darker imaginings.

In his lifetime, Rojas studied literature, philosophy, architecture and political and social science. He practiced and taught architecture. A key figure in the Guatemalan arts, he founded the country’s Ministry of Culture. He also served as its first minister.

De los Cazadores Misticos, 2011
oil and mixed medium on canvas, 29" x 35"

De las Graudas... Fiestas del Torofuego, 2007/2011
oil and mixed medium on canvas, 50" x 60"

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