The Europeans, arriving in the territory of Paraguay, found indie populations with a primitive social development and equally primitive expressive forms; the most advanced tribe was that of the Guaraní. Weaving, plumaria and ceramics were the most practiced arts. European culture penetrated the country mainly by the Franciscans and the Jesuits. In the Espiritual Province of Fr, the reducciones (community centers set up by the Jesuits to host the Indians and ” reduce ” them to Catholicism) had shops where the Indians could learn arts and crafts, and workers of converts produced works that were functional to the decoration of churches and the propaganda of religion. Apart from the purely decorative motifs, in which European and native elements are found, painting and sculpture exclusively elaborated religious subjects, according to models mainly derived from European prints. Of particular importance was the engraving, which reached a notable level, enriching the beautiful books printed in the missions.
From the Indian and European mixture arose the particular Hispano-Guarani Baroque style, characterized by a profusion of juxtaposed elements, by the predilection for two-dimensionality that simplified the chiaroscuro modeling in painting and engraving and the use of perspective fugues, by a slowed movement, from the infringement of canons and from a poor knowledge of anatomy. Ultimately the symbol had the upper hand over the naturalistic representation and the academic rules. Evidence of this particular syncretism remains in the churches of Capiatá, Misiones, Yaguarón. The Virgen of Itapúa (1718) is the only existing painting made by a native whose name is known: J. Kabiyú. Some names of indigenous engravers are also known: J. Yaparí signed an illustration portraying his father Tirso Gonzáles in the book De la diferencia entre lo temporal y lo eterno, and the name of T. Tilcara appears on a print depicting s. John of Nepomuk. In the reducciones friar L. Berger (1588-1639), also active as a goldsmith, musician and doctor, was the first among the masters of painting known to us, and who had a certain reputation also in Europe; among others we remember a certain Salazar, the master glassmaker H. Sánchez, M. Schmidt (1717-1772), J. Grimau; the Milanese friar J. Brasanelli (1659-1728) devoted himself to sculpture, painting and architecture; in the field of typography and engraving the names of Paraguay Restivo, JB Neumann, Father J. Serrano, S. Bandini, L. Orosz, Father S. Aperger stand out. JB Prímoli (1673-1747), an architect also known in Europe, built the mission church of Trinidad, the most important religious monument in Paraguay. Expelled the Jesuits from the Paraguay in 1767, the activity of their art workshops was also put to an end.
In 1811, according to Ask4beauty, the Paraguay proclaimed his independence from the Spanish crown and with this new political reality the process of cultural amalgamation of the colonial era officially ended. The dictatorship of JG Rodríguez de Francia (1814-40) did not favor the evolution of art, while with his successor CA López there was a certain possibility of artistic planning. During his government (1844-62) various artists arrived in Paraguay, including the Italians F. Rossetti, a painter of whom no certain data is known, A. Ravizza, painter and architect who, having settled in Asunción since 1854, founded an academy for linear and geometric drawing, A. Antonini, sculptor and architect, who arrived in Asunción in 1864, and J. Colombo, active in Paraguay since 1852. Still among the foreign artists who arrived in Paraguay we can mention the English J. Owen Moyniham, sculptor and collaborator of the architect A. Taylor (in Paraguay since 1860), the German painter WS Scheller, the French painter J. Mornet and the Spanish painter Paraguay Ochoa. Profane themes take over from sacred ones (Antonini and Owen Moyniham are responsible for the first sculptures of a profane subject).
From the second half of the 19th century, the academic and romantic-minded portraits of two native painters who, thanks to scholarships, completed their education in Europe, particularly in France, deserve mention: A. García (1830:? -1870:?) and S. Ríos (1840-1922). The latter, disappointed by the low consideration in which he was held, abandoned art, burning most of his works: one of the few paintings that remain is the portrait of Bishop Palacios (Asunción, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes), made in 1864 with tintes nacionales (“with national colors”), as evidenced by the curious and significant handwritten inscription on the painting. Also in the 19th century, the first Paraguayan magazine, La Aurora, was founded, with lithographically executed illustrations, which demonstrate how early the acceptance of the new technique in Paraguay had been.
Between 1864 and 1870 the Guerra de la Triple Alianza (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay) favored the resumption of the engraving, with the illustrations of ” field newspapers ”, including Cabichuí (1867-68), El Centinela and Cacique Lambaré: woodcuts with a genuine popular flavor and humorous tone, an effective tool for patriotic propaganda. Their authors are generally anonymous and perhaps they were improvised artists who worked with rudimentary means, but among them we also find S. Ríos. After the war, in a period of relative prosperity, several minor foreign artists stayed or settled in Paraguay, however useful for raising awareness of the environment: the most prominent presence is that of the Italian painter G. Boggiani (1861-1902), who preferred local subjects. Other Italians active in Paraguay were the painters G. Da Ré and H. Da Ponte (1882-1954) and the sculptor B. Baglietto. The French painter F. Chauvelot also worked in Paraguay
The isolation determined by the geographical position of the country, the lack of a significant tradition and endemic poverty continued to weigh on Paraguayan art of the 20th century. To these factors were added hostile or indifferent governments.
However, the expansion of the means of information and the possibility of traveling allowed the opening of breaches. The beginning of a modern conception of art belongs to the painter, ceramist and engraver A. Campos Cervera (1888-1937; better known, after 1926, under the pseudonym of Julián de la Herrería), who in 1908 left for the Europe (he was in Madrid, Rome, Florence, Paris) where he remained until his death. His experience, however, did not have any effective repercussions in Paraguay: in the short returns to his homeland he found, in fact, an environment hostile to innovations, and only after his death did his art exert a certain influence, particularly in the field of ceramics. . Julián de la Herrería’s activity was also important in the engraving sector: not only did he resume the etching technique, no longer used in Paraguay after expulsion of the Jesuits, but it was he who discovered the possibility of engraving on linoleum. Not even the modernism of the painter A. Guevara (1904-1964) had an echo in Paraguay: since 1922, in fact, he worked in Argentina and Brazil, where he was influenced by C. Portinari.
Other artists, who have made training trips abroad, are the sculptor V. Pollarolo (1903-1963) and the painters JA Samudio (1878-1935), Paraguay Alborno (1877-1958), C. Colombo (1882-1959)), J. Bestard (1890-1965) and R. Holden Jara (1899 / 1900-1984). The latter in his themes followed in the footsteps of Brazilian modernism and was committed to the creation of the Escuela de Bellas Artes in Asunción (1957), of which he was the first director. Two foreign painters exerted greater influence on the renewal of figurative language: the Polish W. Bandurek (b.1905), who remained in Paraguay from 1936 to 1945, and the Brazilian J. Rossi (b. 1924), who stayed in Paraguay., teaching you from 1949 for a few years. Another Brazilian, L. Abraham (b. 1903), is important for the development of the graphic arts.
The animator of the artistic life in Paraguay is J. Plá (b.1909), ceramist and essayist, who in 1953 founded the Arte Nuevo group, together with the painters O. Blinder (b.1921) and L. del Mónico (b.1910 ) and to the ceramist and sculptor J. Laterza Parodi (1915-1981), who signed JL Parodi. Fighting for artistic renewal, the group organized the Paraguayan Primera semana de arte Moderno in 1954 which, due to the refusal of hospitality by the requested rooms, took place outdoors. However, recognition of these new concerns came in 1957, when the official bodies welcomed non-conformist artists into the national selection for the San Paolo Biennale. To the Arte Nuevo groupother artists later joined, such as the painter C. Colombino (b. 1937), the best-known Paraguayan artist in Latin America. His painting has undergone several transformations, from an abstraction based on mixed techniques to a hyper-realistic figuration in the realization but metaphysical in the contents.
In a situation like that of Paraguay, sculpture has found particular difficulty and, since the 1950s, the work of H. Guggiari (b. 1924) is an almost solitary figure. In Asunción, the Museo nacional de bellas artes was founded on the basis of the collection of the collector JS Godoy, which still forms its main nucleus. In the Paraguayan capital J. Plá has set up a museum named after her husband Julián de la Herrería. The Centro de Artes visuales gathers the Museo del barro (1980), the Paraguayan Museum of contemporary art, the Sala de exposiciones Josefina Plá and the Taller de artes visuales.