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YOUAH Home » Magazine » Great Masters » PABLO ZELAYA SIERRA, father of Honduran contemporary plastic arts
Sunday, 22 Sep 2019

PABLO ZELAYA SIERRA, father of Honduran contemporary plastic arts

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73rf0Although having died so young, he was the author of a solid artwork that has been found stylistically similar to the works of other great Latin American masters, such as the Mexican Diego Rivera and the Brazilian Cándido Portinari.

Pablo Zelaya Sierra, the father of Honduran contemporary plastic arts, has been awarded such honorary title despite having lived less than four decades and only a few years in his native country. An added merit is the fact that he was born in a poor home and despite it, was able to follow his vocation and his dreams underpinned by scholarships.73rf1

 

He was born in Ojojona on 30 October of 1896 in Honduras, a country convulsed by social problems. He won his degree as elementary school teacher and then left for Costa Rica to enter the National School of Fine Arts. In the course of the twenties went to Madrid, during the reign of Alfonso XIII, to take up studies at the prestigious San Fernando Academy. He had lived over one decade in the Spanish capital when he decided to return to Tegucigalpa, where he died one year later, in March of 1933. These are the milestones of this painter’s life, whose name marks the most important plastic arts prize of Honduras.

 

 

73rf2Which is the reason of this young artist’s immortality? His great sensitivity and the solidity of his artwork, which many consider stylistically similar to that of other notables of the Latin American arts, such as the Mexican Diego Rivera and the Brazilian Cándido Portinari. There must have been reasons why his paintings did not go unnoticed in Madrid, where he exhibited them at the city’s Ateneo. Those who saw them said that in the Old World his artworks denoted an individual attitude and introspection. Precisely, one of his latest and most famous paintings is Brothers against Brothers (Hermanos contra Hermanos)by way of which he denounced what man does to his fellow men in civil war. It is a moving, terrible and violent painting.

 

However, Honduras was not so welcoming. When Pablo Zelaya tried to stimulate the local artistic environment with the creation of a School of Fine Arts, his proposal was not seconded or supported, although it was a necessary idea, because as regards the arts, in those years the country  was much behind the other Central American countries.

Zelaya wanted to contribute to the education of the arts with the knowledge and experience he had acquired in Europe. Instead, he encountered political disarray, and apathy and even worse, deficient medical care that eventually cost him his life.

Those who knew him found him good-looking and expressive with melancholic eyes. These features ought to be supplemented by those of a rather introverted and maladjusted artist, perhaps because he was not much admired or appreciated until two years after his death, when in 1935 his country paid him a heartfelt tribute.

However, there still are those who believe that many years will have to elapse before this artist’s contribution will be duly appreciated in his country’s arts and that his short hard life be understood. When he died, it were his Spanish colleagues who recommended the Honduran president of those times, Tiburcio Carías Andino, that the government acquire the collection of paintings Zelaya had taken to his country in order to prevent that it would be dispersed, and that his widow and his son, who stayed in Madrid, be paid a pension. This explains why Honduras owns part of this important artwork that revitalizes one of the country’s most prominent painters.

Pablo Zelaya is buried in a for many years forgotten tomb of the General Cemetery of Tegucigalpa. The Foundation of the Museum of the Memory of the Honduran Man commissioned a bust sculpture for the present and future generations remember this man who surrendered so much for the sake of his country’s art.

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