Museum Explores Modern Guatemalan Art

Francisco Tun’s “Pareja y Camino (Couple and Path),” 1972, acrylic on wood, 18 x 24 in., private collection

Francisco Tun’s “Pareja y Camino (Couple and Path),” 1972, acrylic on wood, 18 x 24 in., private collection

The Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art offers a rare glimpse of modern and contemporary art from Guatemala in an exhibition, “Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960–Present,” from Sept. 17-Dec. 17. The exhibition, which includes works that will be shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Community Arts Workshop, is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, an exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles at arts institutions across Southern California. An opening reception Saturday, Sept. 16, from 6-8 p.m. is free and open to the public.

“Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960–Present” explores a rich period of artistic production that began during the 36-year-long civil war that began in 1960 and extends to the present day. “It demonstrates the surprising extent to which artists in Guatemala participated in the broader movements and practices of Latin American art, such as geometric abstraction, performance and conceptual art, and new media,” says Judy Larson, R. Anthony Askew professor of art history and museum director. “Even during the worst years of war and political repression, artists Roberto Cabrera, Marco Augusto Quiroa and Elmar Rojas, members of Grupo Vértebra, produced work, sometimes covertly, that directly engaged the country’s socio-political realities.”

The exhibition also includes a younger generation of Guatemalan artists who came to international prominence following the 1996 peace accords. “They reveal an artistic history still largely unknown, and showcasing the country’s vibrant contemporary art scene today,” Larson says.

Baile del Venado, Santiago Atitlan by Daniel Chauche

“Baile del Venado, Santiago Atitlan” (1988) by Daniel Chauche

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, through a series of thematically linked exhibitions and programs, highlights different aspects of Latin American and Latino art from the ancient world to the present day. The exhibitions range in topics about luxury objects in the pre-Hispanic Americas, 20th-century Afro-Brazilian art, alternative spaces in Mexico City and boundary-crossing practices of Latino artists. They include monographic studies of individual artists to broad surveys that cut across numerous countries.

Major support for “Guatemala from 33,000 km” is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation and involves more than 70 cultural institutions from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, and San Diego to Santa Barbara. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America. The Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of art’s presentation is generously supported by Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree and four anonymous donors.

“Guatemala from 33,000 km” is organized by Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara in conjunction with co-curators Miki Garcia and Emiliano Valdés.