San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Rafa Fernández and cats on display at Galeria Valanti

An art gallery in central San José will exhibit paintings of cats as part of a tribute to one of Costa Rica’s most famous living painters, Rafa Fernández.

The Costa Rica Country Club in the western neighborhood of Escazú will host a free showing on Thursday at 7 p.m., according to an announcement at a press conference.

Fernández joined six other painters and gallery directors at the conference. The 78-year-old Fernández arrived in a wheelchair and his daughter Alma Fernández spoke on his behalf.

“For my father, cats are the protagonists of pictures because they have an element of mystery and a particular personality,” Alma Fernández said.

Fernández was born in San José in 1935, growing up with dreams of being a bullfighter, according to Galeria Valanti’s biography. Fernández’s work first appeared at a show in 1954 at the National Theater in central San José. He was internationally acclaimed by the 1970s, with his work appearing in galleries in the U.S., Europe and other parts of Latin America.

The subjects of most of Fernández’s paintings are women, and his work includes both portraits and full figures. A gallery can be found here.

One of the other artists whose work will be displayed, Karen Yu, agreed with Fernández that every cat has a different personality.

“They are life companions in everything,” Yu said. “It is an inspiring theme to have an animal to work with.”

The cat gallery paintings include realistic and somber works such as an image of cats in cages. Other works are of a more playful tone, including a parody of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” with cats cast in the roles of Jesus and his disciples. Galeria Valanti has more information on the exhibition on its website.

Francisco Munguía, the painter of “The Last Supper” parody, confessed to having a deep affection for animals, noting he lived with 22 dogs and two cats.

 “For me, cats have a very surprising dynamic with dogs, eating with the dogs,” Munguía said. “This work is a tribute to that life.”

Note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported that the exhibition was at Galeria Valenti in Barrio Escalante.

Cart Art Exhibit

Manuel Munguía poses beside his “La Ultima Gatuna” at the Costa Rica Country Club in Escazú on Thursday.

Alberto Font

Contact Corey Kane at ckane@ticotimes.net5

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