Jorge Gallardo

Jorge Gallardo - Fruit Vendors (oil on wood)
Jorge Gallardo - Fruit Vendors (oil on wood)

There are many important artists and cultural figures visitors can learn about when touring the heart of Costa Rica. One person you shouldn’t miss when you come to visit this special place is Jorge Gallardo. Gallardo was an influential painter and poet who left a strong influence behind in his native Costa Rica after his death in 2002. The Costa Rica art scene has not been the same since he came to be known around the world as an visionary painter. If you’re interested in discovering Costa Rica culture, you should make a point to check out some spots that feature Gallardo’s art and poetry.

An Iconic Figure in Central America

In the Central America region, Gallardo is known as one of the most influential artists of the modern art scene. He was born in San José on December 12, 1924. Gallardo didn’t initially set out to be an artist, as his degree was focused on a more practical profession, accounting. Eventually, his passion for painting and art called to him, and he began producing work not long after getting his first job at a bank. Gallardo was soon awarded a scholarship to study art at the Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, Spain. He focused his study on painting and continued to train in Rome, Paris and Mexico for several years after finishing his initial program of study.

A Passion for Poetry

What is also unique about Gallardo is his passion for the written word, in the form of Costa Rica poetry. Before you arrive to Costa Rica and explore some of Gallardo’s artistic pieces in person, check out some of his written work:

  • Poetry – Gallardo’s poetic works include “La Justicia Divina,” published in 1968, and “Dar, Amanecer del Amor,” published in 1974.
  • Short novels – His published novels include “La Celestina Intelectualoide,” which was published in 1975, “La Guerra Intrauterina,” published in 1975, and “La Pedagogía Diabólica,” which he published in 1978.

Career Start

Gallardo’s painting career began in Europe after he had studied in Madrid. Once he finished his time studying in Madrid, he moved to Italy and began exploring mural painting. He started finding out about the classical techniques of color, texture, light and perspective by learning about the masters of the art scene in Rome, from ancient Roman artists to medieval and Renaissance masters that left their influence throughout Italy. Eventually, Gallardo moved on to Paris and continued to develop his technique and style through art classes there.

Inspiration From Europe and Mexico

Gallardo’s work has always demonstrated a strong influence from his time spent in Europe and Mexico learning his craft. Gallardo’s use of color and his point of view has been inspired by his life experiences from his travels. He arrived in Europe right at a key time in history, after World War II. While there, he spent time with other iconic artists and writers, such as Octavio Paz and Gabriela Mistral. After time, Gallardo decided to return to Costa Rica and bring his talents to the local cultural arts scene.

Scenes of Costa Rican Life and Faith

After returning to his home country, Gallardo struggled with his Catholic faith. Some of this struggle can be seen in his paintings, which use a concept called “Christian realism.” Additionally, Gallardo committed to capturing Costa Rican daily life in his paintings. His pieces included glimpses into a farm worker’s life, with a focus on the land and culture of his country.

Understanding the culture and history of Costa Rica is essential if you want to make the most out of your trip to this nation. Learning more about Jorge Gallardo and his contributions to his native land can help you feel more connected to this beautiful place.

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