Again, another excerpt from the Lonely Planet - Ecuador chapter on Quito:
Museo Guayasamiń and the Capilla Del Hombre
The former home of the legendary painter Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919–99), this wonderful museum houses the most complete collection of his work. Guayasamín was also an avid collector, and the museum displays his outstanding collection of pre-Columbian ceramic, bone and metal pieces. The pieces are arranged by theme – bowls, fertility figurines, burial masks etc – and in the geometric designs and muted color schemes you can see the influence on Guayasamín’s work.
The museum also houses Guayasamín’s collection of religious art, including works by highly skilled indigenous artists from the Escuela Quiteña (Quito School); there’s even a collection of bloody crucifixes (although Guayasamín was agnostic, he incorporated tortured and Christ-like images in his own work).
Adjacent to the Museo Guayasamín stands the Capilla del Hombre, one of the most important works of art in South America. The fruit of Guayasamín’s greatest vision, this giant monument-cum-museum is a tribute to humankind, to the suffering of Latin America’s indigenous poor and to the undying hope for something better. It’s a moving place, and the free tours give depth to the works on display.
The collection itself, which has numerous murals, is superb. One of the most impressive works is Los Mutilados, a meditation on the Spanish Civil War; Guayasamín studied da Vinci for eight years and did 470 sketches to get it right.
Another innovative work is the sculptural El Condor y El Toro, which represents the forced fight between a condor and a bull during Yaguar Raimi (blood festival). During the festival, a condor was tied to the bull’s neck – if the condor won, it prophesied a good harvest.
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We arrived back in Quito from our adventures at the Kapawi Ecolodge in the late evening on a Friday night. We spent the balance of the weekend relaxing and enjoying the opportunity to sleep in past 6:00am each morning. We had seen and done so much in five short days, that we didn’t feel the need to rush out and see all the historic sights in the capital.
I found I had to take a few days to adjust to the altitude once again. It’s hard to believe, but the area of the Amazon Basin where we were staying was more that 2300m lower than Quito. We went for long walks every day, exploring the nearby district known as Mariscal Sucre.
It has a high concentration of backpacker hostels, simple eateries and dozens of nightclubs. We don’t like to venture out there at night, but it’s a great place to wander during the day and we found a wide variety of places to eat international dishes. We tried an Indian restaurant and the food was delicious.
We couldn’t eat all that we’d ordered so took the leftovers home with us. We made a complete meal the next night by picking up some pita bread at the supermarket and making some raita (cucumbers in yogurt) as a side dish. Unfortunately, I was sick with a bad stomachache the next two days, and by the process of elimination, we figured it had to be the Indian food.
Once we were ready to begin to tackle some of the interesting museums in Quito, we chose the Ethnographical Museum, just down the street from our apartment building, for our first venture. It’s a relatively small museum, but it has fine artifacts and they are creatively displayed.
We were almost done looking through the displays at the museum when I began to feel really unwell. I had to go down to the main floor and get Anil’s backpack out of the security locker in order to get the medicines I always carry along, and after taking an Aleve and some Tums, I began to feel a bit better.
I couldn’t imagine what had caused me to feel unwell this time; we hadn’t been near the Indian restaurant again. Thank goodness we had booked our apartment in Quito for more than a month, because I seemed to be losing a few days each week to feeling under the weather. Migraines have been my cross to bear for more than twenty years now, but an upset stomach is not so common.
I finally began to feel better and we set off to explore the historical centre of Quito. While all the news reports were full of dire warnings of heavy snowfalls across the prairies in Canada, we had an absolutely beautiful first day of spring here in Ecuador. The sky was a brilliant blue and the temperatures were in the low 20s. It was great to see some of the plazas and colonial buildings that I had been reading about as I poured over our guidebook.
The temperatures in Quito stays pretty much the same throughout the year, but the months of February, March and April get the most rainfall. It doesn’t seem to ever rain all day, but there can be a cloudburst early in the morning, in mid-afternoon and often during the night. However, one day can be gloriously bright and pleasant, and the next day overcast and cloudy.
We waited for another lovely day in order to pay a visit to the famous Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man). We ended up spending over three and a half hours there. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to take any photos inside the Capilla or the former residence, but when I visited the gift shop I understood why.
The Foundation sells beautiful prints of Guayasamín’s paintings, and they don’t want to undermine their potential for sales. I was able to find plenty of photos on the internet and I downloaded some of them so you could get an idea of this great artist’s talent. A lovely woman, clearly a patron of the arts, gave us a wonderful tour through the house, pointing out the fine collection of art and artifacts Guayasamín amassed during his lifetime.
The highlight was being able to see the artist’s studio and a short video of him creating a portrait of a friend in a mere 35 minutes. Astonishing!