Artist in Residence

An Interview with David Moscoso Estupiñan

Art historian and friend Alicia Lubowski-Jahn introduced me to the exquisite paintings of this contemporary Ecuadorian artist and I am grateful for that introduction. His work, reminiscent of Frederic Edwin Church and Martin Johnson Heade, is truly impressive. In a world where so much of current art seems either incomprehensible or just plain ugly, discovering the paintings of David Moscoso Estupiñan is like arriving at an exotic and tranquil corner of paradise.

This interview was conducted via email. It is to be hoped that it will provide a good introduction to a painter worthy of a very large audience.

Center of Page -- Just before question 1 Photo Raul Diaz

1. Where and when were you born?

I was born in Ambato, Ecuador, thirty-eight years ago.

2. When did you first discover that you had special artistic talent? Did your family encourage this? Any stories about your very early efforts?

It seems to me that I always knew that I had this interest, this talent. Perhaps it was first manifested when I was around two since my mother has told me that I seemed to have an inherent need to draw. Apparently I drew my father and mother with all their details at a very early age but, alas, those drawings are lost.

It was my mother who later took me to museums, cathedrals, and churches in Quito to see real pieces of art from the colonial period. She also introduced me to art books and even a book on Celtic legends. I think that this last introduction was especially important in that it made me “think” in paint and to almost feel how the paintings were done. Since then I have always tried to discover the exact mixtures used to create colors and how these individual colors work with each other, combine with each other.

Somehow it was as if the “past” I found in the museums and books—the images created and the colors used—awakened me to an entire new world.

3. What was the first time you experienced recognition of your talent? The first time you had what you regarded as an important success?

Right Side -- after the question What was the first time... Photo credit Paul Proano

When collectors and curators began to compare my work to nineteenth-century Ecuadorian masters, I knew I had achieved something. A little later, some of my work was shown in exhibitions in the United States, and the Louisville Visual Art Association even purchased a landscape. Then, when Barbara B. Millhouse from the Reynolda House Museum of American Art in North Carolina chose to add one of my paintings to her collection, it was a real honor. Bear in mind that she owns The Andes of Ecuador, a masterpiece by Frederic Edwin Church.

4. Which artists of the past do you most admire and which have had the greatest influence on you? Why?

Definitely Frederic Edwin Church, but trying to explain why is very difficult. Perhaps I am most impressed by his ability to get the essential spirit of the lands he was exploring into his paintings.

5. Are there contemporary artists you particularly admire? Again, Why?

The work of Zhang Daqian, perhaps the best-known and most prodigious Chinese artist of the twentieth-century, is truly interesting. It’s amazing how he manages to use traditional techniques in order to produce authentically contemporary art.

The second present-day artist I admire very much would be the Argentinian realist, Helmut Ditsch. I think I am most impressed by his capacity to create incredible dialogs between the painting and the viewer via compositions of minimalist landscapes. He is a real master of color and technique, and the way he handles the creative process is very much a part of the world from which he came.

Left side -- On line with To date, what do you... Photo credit Paul Proano

6. To date, what do you consider the best work you have produced?

There are two ways to answer this: the first as a painter, the second as a muralist.

In paintings, I should say the unfinished collection named Llanganati is my best work. This collection addresses the legends of Ecuador—poems, history, fables, the treasure of the Incas, all of it. The most significant issue I have had to consider while working on this project is attempting to catch the true spirit, the soul if you will, of the region’s magnificent landscapes.

As muralist, I am particularly proud of my work in Ambato’s cathedral. Ambato is my home and birthplace and this project has been extensively covered by worldwide art magazines. The Lonely Planet guide from the UK made this cathedral an Ecuadorian tourist destination highlight and the entry included an interview with me—quite an unusual thing in this sort of worldwide guidebook.

I would like to add that the work I currently have in progress at a church in Guaranda City will be both unique and very special. There is a very important identification of Guaranda with both Frederic Edwin Church and Alexander von Humboldt, the celebrated Prussian geographer, naturalist, and explorer.

7. What has been the most impressive recognition you have received as an artist?

After question

This has probably been the support I have received that has given me the chance to develop as both painter and muralist. It is important to remember that being a good painter doesn’t necessarily equate with being a good muralist. There are different ways and techniques involved in creating each of these. And since there are two visions, it’s almost like being two different persons in one. I have been lucky in that both aspects of my work has been encouraged.

The recognition of all those who have seen my work has also been extremely important to me. I have received wonderful emails from strangers sharing their feelings when an interview was aired on TV and showed images of early and current paintings. Some of these individuals even described viewing my work as a religious experience! It seems to be that some people can see and make an interpretation of my work from their own space and time. It shows that the audience can make my work their very own. My experiences, my suffering, speak to this audience and they can have their own very personal experience looking at my work. For me, that is perhaps the most important recognition of all.

8. What projects are you currently working on?

I am working on several very different projects—all of which are important to me.

First, I am working on murals for a foundation, Ayuda en Bolívar para El Campo, directed by a German, Max Gallmeier, in Guaranda. It will be an important statement—an idea of God as Nature. The idea was inspired by an 1857 sketch of Frederic Edwin Church’s that was never turned into a painting. The sketch depicts Guaranda City as it was in 1857 with all the specifications of the geography as it was then. It seems to be a good idea that all this time after it was created, this sketch will finally be expanded into a mural. This will undoubtedly be a great experience for me and, I hope, a fitting tribute to Church.

I am also working on a new collection of paintings planned for exhibition in important Chinese cities in late 2016 or mid-2017.

Another project I’m working on involves recreating some of my landscapes in crystal as well as designing some glass sculptures. These glass sculptures will be created in 3-D and shall be created in conjunction with the most important glass company in Ecuador.

9. Do you collect the work of other artists? If so, whom?

Yes, I have a small collection of other artists and I would love to start a landscape collection. Currently I own several pieces from favorite North American painters, Darryl Halbrooks among them. I also have a few pieces of some Ecuadorian painters like Oswaldo Viteri, who is also a native of Ambato.

David Moscoso Estupiñan can be contacted at:

Bottom Center -- Photo Raul Diaz

Issue Twenty Two