Fun and free in Costa Rica: Images of beauty and horror at Museo de Arte Costarricense

February 27, 2018
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Are you up for a shocking dichotomy at the museum? In one room, rounded sculptures of voluptuous women — each one carved from a single piece — pose in relaxed positions around the salon, while a few rooms away, ominous throbbing sounds accompany the sight of wooden animal parts hanging from meat hooks dripping into red “pans” of light. The two extraordinarily moving but contrasting images are on exhibit at the Museum of Costa Rican Art until Feb. 12.

Paintings, sculpture and drawings by Costa Rican artists.

Ilana Long/The Tico Times

And, as always, the Museo de Arte Costarricense is entirely free.

Currently there are three exhibits that have a limited shelf life at the museum. Better get there quick —You don’t want to miss ’em.

The Museo de Arte Costarricense is easy to find in Parque La Sabana.

Ilana Long/The Tico Times

Manuel Vargas’ exhibit, “Estrategias del Recuerdo,” or “Memory Strategies,” features larger-than-life women carved from trunks of wood. Vargas takes advantage of the grain of the wood, using the natural whorls to emphasize the curves of a woman.

This Vargas creation gazes wistfully at the information panel about her creator.

Ilana Long/The Tico Times

“This art show is rooted in the most vivid memories of Vargas’ childhood and youth, particularly when he was living in his native Tilarán,” said public relations director Marissia Obando Razak.

These wistful, rounded sculptures have titles such as “Looking,” “On Hold” and “I Just Remember.” Smaller bronze sculptures pose on stands. In one titled “Come to Me,” a plump woman squats and holds her arms open. Even though she is made of bronze her embrace looks as welcoming and soft as pillows.

Manuel Zumbado’s extensive exhibit, “Transversal,” or “Crosswise,” could hardly be more different than the Vargas displays. Zumbado’s stark and bleak images are produced with intensity and grim violence. Some of the multimedia art includes technology, found objects and photography — blended with dark lines painted on a white background. In his other rooms, the images are dehumanizing and animalistic, violent and vicious.

Zumbado's visions of terror, violence and death are starkly moving.

Ilana Long/The Tico Times

His works blend the lines “between modernity and contemporary art, inheriting his language in tune with German expressionism,” Marissia said.

Zumbado combines technology and paint to design his multimedia creations.

Ilana Long/The Tico Times

Black, red and gray are prominent colors in the images of dogs, with death set amidst grotesque scenery. As gruesome as it sounds, the effect is provocative and chilling.

The large National Awards Exhibit displays the works of some of Costa Rica’s award-winning artists from 1972 to 1993.

“The National Awards were established as a space for visibility and legitimation of artistic practices,” Marissia said.

Up close and personal at the National Awards Exhibit.

Ilana Long/The Tico Times

Here you’ll find a variety of exceptional artwork, including abstract sculpture by Herbert Zamora, “Niñas” painted by Ana Griselda Hine, photography by Giorgio Timms and so much more. Realistic sculptures share the space with whimsical pen and ink drawings, surreal watercolors, bold photos and colorful, evocative oil paintings.

While you’re there, visit the permanent exhibits, too. In the Gold Room upstairs, the plaster and gold murals depict the entire history of Costa Rica on the four walls. Throughout the museum is a rotating installation of Costa Rica’s most treasured artists, and the permanent sculpture garden outside makes a lovely place to stroll or rest.

The airy sculpture garden behind the museum.

Ilana Long/The Tico Times

It’s fun, it’s inspiring, and it’s 100% free!

Museo de Arte Costarricense is located in Parque la Sabana Norte. Temporary exhibits until February 12. Open Tuesday-Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. For more info: http://www.musarco.go.cr/

In this column, adventurer, author, teacher and parent Ilana Long explores fun things to do in Costa Rica that cost absolutely nada. Contact her at ilanalong@hotmail.com

 

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