César Valverde Vega

Cesar Valverde Vega painting a mural at the Mural in the Legislative Assembly
Cesar Valverde Vega painting a mural at the Mural in the Legislative Assembly

César Valverde Vega is not only one of the most important artists that Costa Rica has produced, his variety of contributions to the nation has made him a cultural icon in Costa Rica. His varied and distinguished career in the 20th century culminated in his death in 1998, but his legacy lives on in artistic, governmental, and intellectual spheres.

An Early Artistic Start

Internationally known mostly as a Costa Rica artist, Vega was born in El Carmen, San José, in 1928. Attracted to artistic pursuits early in his education, a teacher early in his elementary education taught him artistic techniques in oil painting and a variety of other art techniques. Vega especially resonated with serigraphy, also known as silk screening.

The interplay of design, shape, and color is what especially attracted Vega to serigraphy. On the canvas he endeavored to paint and print life as he saw it, full of vibrant aesthetics. Sticking with his own unique vision of composition, Vega achieved a signature approach to art.

Even though Vega pursued a law degree at the insistence of his parents, he received advanced art training at the University of Costa Rica, the Academia Delle Belle Arti at the Scuola di Nudo in Rome, the Regional School of Art in Manchester, England, and at the Corcoran School of Art in the state of Washington.

A Man of Achievement

Not only accomplished in art, Vega received a law degree from the University of Madrid in Spain. He later did post-graduate work at the IEDES of the University of Paris and the University of Manchester in England. Over his career, Vega held a number of influential positions in Costa Rican government including as the deputy director of the Planning Office, Vice Minister of Culture, and the Costa Rican consul in Canada. A writer of novels and essays, Vega published several books as well as numerous articles in both the Arts and Opinions sections of the Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion.

Grupo Ocho

César Valverde Vega was a founding member of Grupo Ocho, a group of Costa Rican abstract artists in the 1960’s. This group sought to revive and advance the plastic arts movement in Costa Rica. Vega’s painted murals at the time featured stylized images of women. He became the University of Costa Rica’s Director of Plastic Arts after earlier serving the institution as a professor of art.

International Renown

Vega’s work has been exhibited on multiple continents over the years at the Iturbide Palace in Mexico, Costa Rica’s Central Bank Museums, the National Museum of Bogota in Columbia, and the Miraflores Art Gallery in New York City to name a few. His work has also won awards all over the world.

A Fitting Tribute

The recently completed new Jade Museum in San José is a fitting place to showcase one of Vega’s works. Hung in the large atrium entrance of the new 75,000 square foot facility is a striking and colorful painting by César Valverde Vega. The prominent inclusion of Vega’s art in one of the most comprehensive museums in Costa Rica is a fitting tribute to the artist, educator, and statesman. The five-story building next to the centrally located Plaza de la Democracia allows easy access to other notable destinations in downtown San Jose.

With so many areas of interest, it is amazing that Vega excelled in all of them. His achievements are part of what makes Costa Ricans proud of their artistic culture. When you are planning a trip to San Jose for a cultural experience, be sure not to miss viewing the work of a premier Costa Rica artist, César Valverde Vega, at the new Jade Museum.

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