An outcast and alienated figure among the dominant avant-garde movements of his time, Gonzalo Ariza reacted against every artistic current that emerged in Colombia during the 1950s and 1960s. He was neither interested in the political art that had taken shape during the 1940s nor captivated by the momentum that later emerged around abstraction. Ariza accepted a government scholarship to study art in Japan at a time when most Latin American artists flocked to Europe, and there he learned traditional techniques for watercolor and trained as a printmaker with Japanese masters. He is best known for large paintings of the tropical Colombian landscape enveloped by clouds or a dense mist. His aerial perspectives of vast spaces with lush vegetation and mountains that recede into an elusive horizon recall the perspectival dynamism and misty effect of Japanese brush painting. In this painting, the vastness of the tropical landscape is conveyed through compositional elements that convey a sense of spatial depth. Dense vegetation frames the lower portion of the painting indicating a foreground, while a mountain range receding into the distance appears to extend infinitely behind a group of stratus clouds. Through an impressive, technical attention to detail, Ariza's paintings capture the density, exoticism, and variety of the Colombian rainforest.
Text credit: Produced in collaboration with the University of Maryland Department of Art History & Archaeology and Patricia Ortega-Miranda