San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

“Art Hotel” Houses Tico Exhibits

COLOR is freedom. It can liberate the mind, allowing one to express deeper levels of emotion, thought and cultural identity. That’s the idea behind the kaleidoscope of art in “Libertades Cromáticas” (“Chromatic Freedoms”), currently on display at Hotel Milvia in the eastern San José suburb of San Pedro.Showcasing the work of three Costa Rican painters and a U.S. jewelry maker, “Libertades Cromáticas” shows how artists can alter our moods by using cool and warm tones and adding forceful colors to express strong emotions such as anger, said Florencia Urbina, owner of Hotel Milvia and one of the three painters whose works are on display in the exhibit.“Libertades Cromáticas” also presents an opportunity for cultural reflection, posing the question: “As Costa Ricans, who are we?” “Color is a part of the Costa Rican identity; it’s fundamental,” said Fabio Herrera, whose abstract paintings make up part of the exhibit. “We’re a country of biodiversity, and green is the color of Costa Rica. There are so many different greens here – it depends on the light, the intensity. This variety of colors is a freedom.”Painter Mario Maffioli, another of the four artists whose abstract paintings are displayed in the exhibit, said color is an effective way to express the transcultural nature of Costa Rica’s people.“In Costa Rica, we’re at the center of the Americas,” he said. “We’ve always existed as a progression of cultures – a mix of foreigners, a land of the young.”While Herrera and Maffioli paint abstract figures to represent larger themes, Urbina is a figurative painter who focuses on the human form. The works in the exhibit were chosen from this mix of styles and colors to complement one another.URBINA’S “Swimmers,” on display in the hotel’s dining room, is made of three panels, each depicting people enjoying water, a central theme in her work. Two of the panels illustrate women floating in a pool of brilliant blue, and the center panel shows two beach-goers running full-speed into crashing waves.Urbina said she created as many hues of blue as she could to capture all the tones found in water, from turquoise to sky blues to purple-blues. The range of blues contrasts with the flesh tones of the swimmers.“As painters, this is where we find true chromatic freedom,” she said, “in being able to create more than five shades of the same color.”Urbina’s longtime friend Herrera uses abstract techniques of layering colors and textures of paint to express his own “chromatic freedom.” His “Amanecer” (“Dawn”) uses a mixture of blues, greens and yellows to evoke images of daybreak, he said.“The colors represent happiness,” he said, “the idea that every time we wake up, we have this happiness. For every instant in life, there is a different color. That’s what motivates me as a painter.”Maffioli’s paintings, also abstract, use “flexography” techniques of layering different paint media over a paper canvas. This blend allows him to achieve a wide range of brilliant, metallic shades.U.S. jewelry-maker Jan Hurwitch’s pieces are showcased in Hotel Milvia’s reception area, providing another media to transmit the idea of chromatic freedom. Using semiprecious stones in a variety of shapes and hues, she creates necklaces, bracelets and earrings that capture and reflect light.HERRERA, Urbina and Maffioli are members of Bocaracá, a group of eight artists formed in 1988 to promote Costa Rican art. Over the past 15 years, the group has done exhibits in Panama, Germany, France, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic. “Our goal is to internationalize art from Costa Rica,” Urbina said. “There’s a lack of knowledge about Costa Rican art, and we want to make it more accessible to the public.”“Libertades Cromáticas,” on display at Hotel Milvia until Sept. 8, is free to the public.Hotel Milvia, an “art hotel” that houses exhibits of Costa Rican artists every three months, serves as Bocaracá’s “headquarters,” said Urbina, who owns the nine-bedroom hotel along with her husband, Steve Longrigg, from the United Kingdom.All of the jewelry and 50 paintings on display in “Libertades Cromáticas” are for sale, and prints of some works are also available for those looking for a less expensive way to collect art.Hotel Milvia is in San Pedro, 100 meters north and 200 meters east of Supermercado Muñoz y Nanne. For more information, call 225-4543.

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