Posted by: groundsforsculpture | March 11, 2010

Art in South America

By Ulli Arendt, Docent      Photos: Ulli Arendt

Just a few weeks ago, my husband and I returned from a trip that took us around South America. On our journey we not only enjoyed the beauty and contrast of the countryside of our southern neighbor but we also encountered many beautiful, historically important Latin American art works, worthwhile to see and to experience. Some untouched nature and also some vast wine areas, well kept and looking very lavish, accompanied us from Chile, to the western Argentinean coast around Cape Horn, to Uruguay, and back to the eastern part of Argentina. Of all the countries we visited, Uruguay stood out in displaying the people’s art. We did see art works by Dali, Botero, Volti, and Robinson, but in addition there were beautiful sculptures and paintings by artists nobody knew.  

"The Mermaids" by Lili Perkins

Lili Perkins, The Mermaids

The Mermaids, for example, at the tip of Punta del Este, where the Rio de la Plata and the Atlantic Ocean meet, were created by Lili Perkins. She built these stone shell “people” without any financial support. The figures are made of shells which she had collected at the shore. Her message is that the mermaids had come from the sea and talked to us, but we did not listen. They went back to the sea and came back again to tell us NOT to pollute their world, “Listen! Do not pollute!” That is their message today.  

Mario Irrazaball, Los Dedos (Fingers)

On our way back to the beach, where most people from Uruguay and Argentina spend their holidays, we were surprised with Los Dedos (Fingers) by Mario Irrazaball. Mario is from Chile and spends a lot of his time in Punta del Este. Los Dedos or “his hand” begs for the balance between nature and construction and development. Every beachgoer is reminded daily of this imbalance; more and more high-rises, and less and less nature.  

Ralli Museum, Punta del Este, Uruguay

Over the Wavy Bridge by Leonel Viera, an architect and sculptor from Uruguay, we drove to the Ralli Museum. This museum, located in one of the most beautiful parks in Punta del Este, is a private non-profit institution whose purpose is to draw the attention of the public at large to the quality of contemporary Latin-American art. It was built in 1987 as the first of the five Ralli Museums in Uruguay, Israel, Spain and Chile. What struck us was the absence of commercial activity. No book or gift shops, no cafes or bars. All of the museums are funded by Mr. Harry Recanati and Dr. Martine Recanati and NO donations are accepted.  

Henry Bermudez, Sol do La Luna Nueva

Salvador Dali, Persistence de la Memoire









On our stroll through the museum, we came across paintings and sculptures by well known as well as lesser known artists. The selection of works in this exhibit is determined “solely by their quality, irrespective of the reputation of the artists or their market value.” We did encounter sculptures by Lidow Leza from the US and Eduardo Soriano (telephones and doors), a painting by Henry Bermudez (Sol de La Luna Nueva), and creations by Salvador Dali (here: Persistence de la Memoire). Before we left, we visited the very small but lovely sculpture garden, hidden in the back of the museum. The two sculptures depicted here we wanted to attribute to Allan Houser; however, these were the Mujers Campesina by Armcurdo Amaya. 

Armcurdo Amaya, Mujers Campesina


Casa Pueblo, Punta Ballena, Uruguay

We could have spent hours in this lovely museum, but our time was quite limited since our ship was leaving again in the evening, and we had been told not to miss the famous (or at least famous in South America) home of one of Uruguay’s most renowned artists, Carlos Paez Vilaro. Located in Punta Ballena, near Punta del Este, the so-called Casa Pueblo did remind us of the Antoni Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, Spain. This incredible villa, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, houses not only a very fancy hotel, but is also in part the private residence of Carlos Paez Vilaro and accommodates his permanent gallery.  

Our trip, however, ended in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a city beautifully designed and constructed. Therefore, the emphasis was more on architecture than “art work” on our final stop.  


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