Dominican Artists: what you need to know

Dominican Artists: what you need to know

Did you know that Santo Domingo is the hub of Dominican art? Our unique art has attracted the attention of art lovers from far and wide. On your next vacation, be sure to tour this city and visit art galleries, so that you don’t miss out on the chance to buy authentic, original art. But first, get to know some Dominican artists who have been instrumental in shaping our culture.

Dominican Artists, past and present

Clara Ledesma

In 1948, Clara Ledesma was one of the first women artists to graduate from the National School of Fine Arts in Santo Domingo in 1948. Three years after that, she opened a gallery that showcased her artwork and those of fellow artists. Her solo exhibition in 1952 was such a hit that she used the proceeds to travel to Europe to learn more so that she could expand her skills.

Her travels took her to places like Barcelona, Madrid, Paris and Lisbon, where she came under the influence of the surrealist, expressionist, and cubist movements, which were shaped by the artists Marc Chagall, Joan Miro, and Paul Klee.

You can easily spot her work by her use of bright primary colours and imaginative figures. Elements of fantasy and social realism are also important features that she used to portray the pulsing beauty of her homeland. She was not afraid to show the dark side of her country, such as the racial inequality, but did so with thoughtfulness.

Raúl Recio

Raúl Recio’s artwork is diverse. You can find an exhibition of his drawings at Lyle O. Reitzel Gallery. According to a Guggenheim article, “his drawings present a humorous view of the excesses of tropical life, while his paintings capture the mystical power of the Caribbean landscape.”

Of his work, he states,

“As colors mix together, they radiate a feeling, and that feeling comes alive. That’s why my paintings are not looking for an answer or raising a question; the painting itself takes me to that place, which is a landscape.”

Celeste Woss y Gil

Celeste Woss y Gil was the first Dominican woman to be a professional artist. During her exile abroad, she studied art in Paris, Cuba, and New York. Her style draws on European influences, which she fused with a Caribbean flavour. Nude Dominican women and scenes of bustling marketplaces are common features in her artwork.

In 1924, she returned to Santo Domingo and put on a solo exhibition of her work. This was a historic act on her part, and was a turning point in the history of Dominican art by women. That same year, she opened a small art school in Santo Domingo in 1924. In 1931, she founded a painting and drawing academy. Her students had included Gilberto Hernández Ortega, who was deemed to be a leading painter of his generation.

Hulda Guzmán

Hulda Guzmán is a painter who lives and works in the Dominican Republic. In her more recent works, she works mainly with acrylic on wood or canvas. Lush, tropical landscapes with mythic, intimate elements are some of the themes in her artwork. Her studies in Mexico have a direct impact on the energy of her paintings.

This is what she hopes art lovers will draw from her work:

“I wish the spectator to have an experiential approach and interpretation of the works in the exhibition, rather than a more logical one. The elements intend to provoke an impression on the viewer, an emotion, and through this emotion to bring about the concept of the paintings; not the other way around”

Natalia Ortega Gámez

Natalia Ortega Gámez’s work “explores traditional weaving patterns in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Her work is focused on artisanal process and materials that bear a direct relationship to culture, such as clay, bamboo and fibers. In her current body of work, Ortega Gámez explores the work of traditional weavers.”

Joiri Minaya

On her website, Joiri Minaya introduces herself as “a Dominican-United Statesian multi-disciplinary artist whose work investigating the female body within constructions of identity, multi-cultural social spaces and hierarchies.”

On Volta’s platform, she explains her work and its stages:

“My current body of work focuses on the construction of the female subject in relation to nature and landscape in a “tropical” context, shaped by a foreign Gaze that demands leisure and pleasure. Like nature, femininity has been imagined and represented throughout history as idealized, tamed, conquered / colonized and exoticized. I’m currently revising existing cultural products that engage in this form of representation and challenging them through my work.

My process is an on-going exploration across media: a painting or a sculpture might be a departing point for a video or a performance, and they might all merge into a final piece or develop independently. The constant in my work is the presence of the body and the interest in creating distinct power positions with it, often contradictory but operating simultaneously. To navigate binaries in search of inbetweenness, trying to both fulfill and sabotage expectations at once.”

José Morbán

José Morbán is a graphic designer, illustrator, and visual artist. He sees his work as an integral part of his identity, which explains why his art centers on the Dominican Republic.

In an interview with Alex Kahl of WePresent, he said, “There’s no way to separate my work from my personal history. Being from a country with such a fractured historical memory it’s inevitable, as an artist, to reflect on it at some point.”

Wrapping up

These are just a few of the Dominican artists who are making waves as they showcase the heart of Dominican life and culture. The next time you book one of our retreats, add a visit to any of our galleries to your itinerary, and take a piece of the DR back home to grace the walls of your home.

References

Remezcla, “10 Young Artists Leading the New Wave of Dominican Art”, https://remezcla.com/lists/culture/young-dominican-artists/

GUGGENHEIM, Raúl Recio: Invisible Landscape, https://www.guggenheim.org/blogs/map/raul-recio-invisible-landscape

Art in Embassies, Raúl Recio, https://art.state.gov/personnel/raul_recio/

Artspace, Hulda Guzmán, https://www.artspace.com/artist/hulda-guzman

Hypebeast, “Artist Hulda Guzmán Explores Narrative & Space in First Greece Exhibition”, https://hypebeast.com/2019/10/hulda-guzman-with-the-mother-dio-horia-exhibition-athens

Repeating Islands, DAVIDOFF ART INITIATIVE NAMES NATALIA ORTEGA GÁMEZ FOR RESIDENCY IN BOGOTÁ, https://repeatingislands.com/2016/07/03/davidoff-art-initiative-names-natalia-ortega-gamez-for-residency-in-bogota/

Volta, New York 2020, Joiri Minaya, https://ny.voltashow.com/archive/2017/curator-2017/joiri-minaya/

WePresent, “José Morbán”, https://wepresent.wetransfer.com/story/jose-morban/