Cuenca artist Gustavo López: Finding inspiration in the ruins of Pumapungo

Dec 8, 2017 | 2 comments

Gustavo López in his El Centro art shop.

This week, I had the pleasure to visit with an iconic Ecuadorian artist, Gustavo López Moreno, at his El Centro gallery on Luis Cordero at Honorato Vasquez.

We had a great time. He’s a simple, unassuming man, considering his talent and experience, and he likes to joke around. He keeps his door open, and people came in and out. Some friends, like his buddy Dr. Nicanor Merchan Luco, the director of the El Mercurio newspaper, popped in to say hi, and others came in to examine his diverse collection of art.

Gustavo told me about his life. Born in Cuenca in 1948, he is the founder of the Academy of Arts of the Colegio Benigno Malo and the author of several research and training projects related to artistic expressions.

Recently, he represented Ecuador in two exhibits in Mexico, one sponsored by the Ecuadorian Ambassador to Mexico, and one in Xochimilco, at the Feria de Aguas Caliente, as an homage to Ecuadorian art.

When I asked what inspires his art, he replied that the main inspiration is born in the ruins of Pumapungo — the door of the puma — which, for this artist, is the reflection of the Cuenca soul. On that sacred hill in the center of Cuenca, the Cañari and Inca ancestors worshiped the sun in magnificent temples. It is also where the Inca emperor, Huayna Capac, was born.

Gustavo’s paintings reflect the richness and ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity of Ecuador. He wants to express the ways of life, traditions, customs, cultural landscape, and architecture as well as great scientific and technological advances of the Ecuadorian people.

He is also an accomplished poet, and a new edition of his book of poetry and painting, called Metropoli, is coming out in April 2018.

Gustavo López Moreno has a serious art pedigree. He comes from a long line of poets and artists. Alfonso Moreno Mora, the celebrated Ecuadorian poet, was his grandfather, and his uncles were both poets and painters.. And he is extremely proud of his three sons, Bernardo, Cristian, and Nicolas, who are respectively a men’s fashion designer, an owner of a design and art studio, and a DJ.

So if you feel like looking at modern art with a twist, go visit Gustavo in his gallery. It’s just a few blocks south of Parque Calderon.
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Here are my top picks for what to do in Cuenca in the upcoming week:

Today, Saturday, December 9
Paco’s Blues at Lirón Lirón (Gran Colombia and Benigno Malo), 7 p.m.

Tuesday, December 12
Big Christmas Concert 2017, Singing, Dancing. Cathedral Vieja, 7:30 p.m. Free

Friday, December 15
Singer Renato Zamora, Teatro Pumapungo (Calle Larga y Huayna Capac) 8 p.m. Free
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Michel Blanchard is an award-winning graduate of the Parsons School of Design in New York. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from McGill University in Canada and has been a contributor to several arts and culture publications. He’s lived in Cuenca for eight years.

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