Omar Rayo grew up in the town of Roldanillo, a municipality in the Cauca Valley of Colombia, and began his career as an illustrator and graphic designer. He is associated with "maderismo" and "bejuquismo", two artistic styles based on a technique in which drawn figures appear to be constructed out of geometric fragments of wood, leaves, twigs, and "lianas" (vines). Rayo’s interest in geometric abstraction dates to early experiments in which he used organic materials and textile patterns to create optical illusions. In the early 1960s, he began his first series of intaglios, mastering a printing technique in which shaped metal sheets created a raised image on the paper. Devoid of ink, Rayo’s reliefs are defined purely by their surface texture, depth, and material. In the etching "Grotto III", the embossed geometric fields of color create the illusion of a paper unfolding. This illusion of spatial depth is poetically evoked by the work’s title, which indicates a hollow space or structure that resembles a cave.
This text was created in collaboration with the University of Maryland Department of Art History & Archaeology and written by Patricia Ortega-Miranda.