Art Gallery in Cuenca
Seldom in life are we given the opportunity to personally witness the transformation of not only an artist but of an art form. Yet you can have the chance to experience just that for yourself when you visit Miguel Illescas Cabrera’s Art Gallery on Calle Larga in Cuenca. Not only that, you have a major treat in store!
Even before you set foot inside of the gallery, your senses are bombarded with an array of varying colors and differing textures from the numerous mixed media sculptures displayed wherever your eyes happen to land. Colorful metallic iguanas nestle in the grass outside the showroom. When you cross the threshold, blue-footed boobies frolic playfully inside. Musicians of every shape and size perform all around you on a variety of native instruments.
Transfixed, you cannot help but marvel at the figures surrounding you in all their multi-hued glory. But hold off a minute, because still more awaits you as you venture further. Much more!
It is only after you have entered this magical showroom and happen to glance into a recess off to your left that the transformation you have been privileged to see becomes readily apparent.
You suddenly realize that up until now the art you have been viewing only depicts the surface facets of the indigenous life and culture of Ecuador. So far you have just been able to see what lies on the outside. The visible external colors of the world were on display.
Here, in this small alcove you have just entered, it is the soul of Ecuador that has been laid bare before you. Before this moment you have been experiencing Miguel’s artistry with your eyes; now it has broken through the surface and the internal feelings of the world have penetrated deep inside of you and made their way into your heart.
The change is dramatic. When you glance back at the figures of the birds and the musicians you were admiring earlier you now notice that, while colorful, they pale in comparison to what you are viewing. Before, those figures were sometimes perched on a gleaming, smooth surface, but the figures themselves were coarser and less refined.
Now you have penetrated that shiny surface that lay beneath those figures to reveal shimmering masses of vibrant colors. Despite the more abstract shapes you can feel the life pulsating inside each one. They are alive and speak directly to your spirit. Their power is overwhelming. You have now entered the next phase of Miguel’s art. You have entered the soul within.
About The Artist
Miguel is a self-taught artist. He learned to weld at the age of 14 and before long was fashioning metal sculptures. For the most part he uses recycled materials to create his art, reclaiming discarded rubbish from the environment and turning it into sculptures of permanent beauty for others to appreciate and enjoy.
Sometimes his ideas come from the materials he finds; other times the ideas spring forth in his mind and he seeks out the necessary materials to bring them to fruition. An integral part of his sculptures involves the use of stainless steel. Creating works of art from this material is difficult, but he feels it is definitely worth the extra effort and work required.
He is now a world-renowned artist. His works are housed in public and private collections around the globe. If he wanted, he could rest on his laurels. His financial future would be assured if he did nothing more than continue to produce sculptures of animals from the Galapagos and indigenous musicians.
That, however, is not enough for Miguel. He wants to try new things and explore new techniques. He wants to do something no one else has done before. Changing directions is challenging, exciting, and motivating for him.
When asked where he sees his work going, Miguel replied that he doesn’t know. He knows where he started, but he doesn’t know where he’ll end up. Wherever it may be, he will undoubtedly find an eager audience awaiting him. [Sofia, if you haven’t used the panorama on first pages, perhaps IMG-3945 here on a single page. He wants to highlight his new direction]
Other Latin American Artists
Another room not to be missed at the Miguel Illescas C. Galeria de Arte is devoted to other Latin American artists. Here you will find works by artists from such far-flung places as Ecuador, Columbia, Peru, Cuba and Venezuela.
One example of them is Mauro Phazán. He was born in Ecuador, but has lived in Colombia for the past fifty-five years.
Author’s Personal Testimony
I first became aware of Miguel Illescas shortly after I moved to Ecuador. I was visiting another expat’s apartment and was captivated by the colorful metallic iguanas he had on display. I was amazed at how someone had managed to bring these animals to life using metals and beautiful colors.
I bought my first work by this amazing artist in 2015 at a fundraiser to benefit the Hearts of Gold Foundation. I purchased it because the multi-hued figures of this mixed medium work brought the sites and colors of Ecuador to life for me. It hangs on my living room wall today. Now, however, when I look at the shimmering cobalt surface on which the figures sit, I cannot help but wonder what lies beneath.