Eduardo Kingman

kingman Paintings and Prints by the Master of Social Realism.

Eduardo Kingman Riofrio's paintings, marked by emotionally poignant renditions of Indians and Laborers executed with minimal anatomical detail, established the predominant pictorial style of Ecuadorian Indigenism in the 20th century.

Born in the southern province of Loja to a North American father and an Ecuadorian mother, Kingman moved to Quito to study at the Escuela de Bellas Artes under the renowned painter, Victor Mideros. In Quito, Kingman met artists such as Diogenes Paredes, Oswaldo Guayasamin, and others, who together with Kingman decided to eliminate the picturesque from their paintings and to focus instead on the harsh realities of Ecuador's indigenous population.

Kingman distinguished himself in the 1930's through his powerful renditions of indigenous workers depicted in a monumental style. The anatomical deformations and non-idealized depiction of the working man became his signature style for which he continues to be known for to this day. His paintings exposed the poverty and toil of indigenous populations around the world. Hi mission as an artist was to teach the world the history of oppression and marginalization of indigenous people not only in Ecuador, but throughout the world.

kingman1Unlike other Ecuadorian artists of previous generations, he did not travel abroad until after he had come of age as an artist, most likely because of the unavailability of governement scholarships to a painter with topic matter as controversial as his. He made his first trip out of Ecuador in 1938 to assist Camilo Egas with his mural in the Ecuadorian Pavilion at the New York World's Fair. During the 1940's Kingman again traveled to the U.S. to work and exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Art, and in 1947 he participated in an exhibition sponsored by the Pan-American Union in Washington, D.C. Upon his return to Quito in 1948, he was appointed director of the Museum of Colonial Art, where he worked for the next 20 years. The appointment did not, however, hinder his artistic production, and he remained prolific throughout his tenure there.

Kingman experimented with abstract painting in the 1950's. Many of his pieces from this period share an affinity with non-figural works by Wilfredo Lam, or Roberto Matta. Critics who knew Kingman for his social realism, however, did not embrace this change. Thus, Kingman chose to produce mainly figural works for the remainder of his career.

kingman2Kingman's later paintings were marked by exaggerated renditions of hands, a motif which inspired the great Ecuadorian artist, Oswaldo Guayasamin. The hands in these works become the locus for the expression of emotion, most often anguish and despair. In the 1970's Kingman's palette changed dramatically. He infused his paintings with brilliant washes of translucent color, creating a sense of transparency akin to stained glass. Through his easel paintings and murals Kingman not only addressed critical social issues but also developed a powerful personal style to communicate the urgency of his subject matter.

Kingman never cared much for printing, although his album of prints, Hombres del Ecuador (1945), highlights the artist's expert draftsmanship and expressive figural style. The widely known print, "Woman Grinding Corn", (now found commonly on Ebay and throughout the internet) unfortunately is not a Kingman original, but a widely published authorized rendition of an original painting by the artist, and printed by a modern printing cooperative called Estamperia Quitena. This print unfortunately highlights the commercialization of art that Kingman fought hard to separate himself from. It is ironic that this single most commercial piece of Kingman's style is the one which he is often recognized for.

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