Aquiles Jiménez

Invocation (bronze) by Aquiles Jiménez courtesy of
Invocation (bronze) by Aquiles Jiménez courtesy of

Often when tourists think of Costa Rica culture, they think of traditional handicrafts such as Boruca masks or a wooden oxcart. However, this nation is home to talented serious artists as well, and these artists have made an impression on the international art scene. One of these important Costa Rica artists is Aquiles Jiménez, a sculptor.

Early Life

Jiménez was born in the town of Santo Domingo del Roble de Santa Bárbara de Heredia on May 14, 1954. At age nine Jiménez began working with the volcanic rock found around his home. He was inspired by the beauty of the rivers and the trees that surrounded him. This inspiration continues into his adult life as his art reflects a fusion of nature, geography, and talent.

Jiménez grew up in a peasant family of nine boys. His father was a day laborer and the family's fortunes were tied to the coffee plantations. Yet Jiménez had a visionary mother who believed in great things for her children, and a father who wanted his children to learn. When Jiménez realized he wanted to study art, his family supported and encouraged his education.

At age 12 Jiménez entered the Liceo de Heredia where he met sculptor Olger Villegas. He invited Jiménez to join an art club where Jiménez learned to paint. One day Villegas told his student to bring in a piece of cypress wood, and Jiménez created his first sculpture, Maternidad. At this young age, Jiménez knew that he wanted to become a sculptor. His talent was noticed, and he received a scholarship to study at the Conservatory of Castella.

Studies Abroad

All sculpting roads lead to Carrara, Italy where the finest marble in the world is found. Even Michelangelo obtained his marble here. Jiménez was no exception as he traveled to Carrara to continue his studies at the Pietro Tacca Institute and the Accademia di Belle Arte di Carrara. While there, he was fortunate to study with a prominent marble sculptor, Rino Gianni.

He then took a break from the Pietro Tacca to travel Europe. He visited Switzerland, Spain, Luxembourg, England, and France, as well as other countries. He also traveled to Venezuela and México. Jiménez sought inspiration from many cultures and styles. His interests grew to include working in granite, bronze, andesite, and basalt.

Jiménez returned to Carrara and the Pietro Tacca in 1978 to complete his degree. He eventually earned a degree in sculpture from the Accademia di Belle Arte. Going back home to Costa Rica, he began his teaching career at the Autonomous University of Central America and the Castella Conservatory.

Style and Works

The natural beauty of Costa Rica infuses the sculptures of Jiménez. He is fascinated by mountains, volcanoes, horizons, animals, and forests. He often explores larger themes and creates a number of sculptures grouped around that theme. Favorite themes have included dreams, night, music, water, dawn, maternity, and enchantment.

Jiménez believes there is an important link between poetry and sculpture. They both have rhythm and a lyric expressiveness. He also invokes melody and harmony in his work, finding ways to reveal a single tune or many tunes woven together in rock and stone. Jiménez approaches his work intuitively. He believes the act of sculpting can be described as the sensory process of finding.

The works of Jiménez have been exhibited around the world. He has had shows in Italy, Argentina, Perú, Israel, Brazil, China, and of course, Costa Rica. His sculptures are on display at the University of Costa Rica and in Costa Rica museums. He has recently won, for the second time, the Aquileo J. Echeverría Prize for Visual Arts in Sculpture. Costa Rica is proud of this native son who has won acclaim portraying their land and spirit in stone.

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