Juan Villafuerte


Juan Villafuerte (July 19, 1945 - August 15, 1977) (Juan Antonio Villafuerte Estrada) was an artist known for his transmutated drawings and paintings. Villafuerte is among the ranks of other prominent Latin American painters such as, Enrique Tábara, Aníbal Villacís, Félix Arauz, Oswaldo Guayasamin, Hernan Zuniga and Jose Carreño.

Villafuerte was born on July 19, 1945, in Guayaquil, Ecuador to Manuel Villafuerte and Rosa Estrada. Juan was the youngest of four brothers, Manuel, and two sisters, Nila and Vilma. Nila was 13 when Juan was born. Nila later went on to marry Félix Arauz. Villafuerte's, Casa Antigua, oil on canvas, 1967.

In 1960, Villafuerte attended the School of Beautiful Arts in Guayaquil and was mentored by Theo Constanté, Hans Michelson and Caesar Andrade Faini. In 1964, Villafuerte and Hernan Zuniga moved to the factory of Juan Manuel Guano to work and live the Boehemian life of an artist. Villafuerte left the school in 1966 and began drawing from nature. Although Villafuerte did not follow in their footsteps he was greatly inspired by Gilberto Almeida and Enrique Tabara's Pre-Columbian inspired paintings. After graduation, Villafuerte participated in numerous Collective Exhibions at the House of Culture, Nucleus of the Guayas, and the Museum of Colonial Art.

Villafuerte's first solo exhibit in Guayaquil was held at the North American Ecuadorian Center. The exhibit catalogue and invitations contained extremely enthusiastic commentaries of Villafuerte's work by such writers as, Bolivar Moyano and Diego Oguendo, among other pens. In the newspaper, the art critic, Manuel Esteban Mejía, spoke of Villafuerte's work at the exhibit saying, "It is not complacent, or made to please, but to trouble. It outlines deformities". Other articles spoke of the works as being at the core of the humanist philosophy. In 1967, Villafuerte presented an exhibit called Personal Muestra at the Galleria Arte de Quito that consisted of his first series of Vietnam images. The Vietnam Series lasted until 1973 when the war ended. In his Vietnam Series, Villafuerte would finish a drawing and rip it up into pieces and fix them to fine cardboard, then he would continue drawing and add in various newspaper and magazine clippings of the war. In 1968, Villafuerte exhibited with the group, VAN, at The Museum of Colonial Art in Quito. VAN was a group of modern Informalist artists that primarily consisted of Enrique Tábara, Aníbal Villacís, Estuardo Maldonado, Luis Molinari and Gilberto Almeida, who were in a constant search for a new modern aesthetic derived from Pre-Columbian art.

Villafuerte left Ecuador in 1968 to study engraving, drawing, and painting at the School of Beautiful Arts in Barcelona. During his study in Barcelona, Villafuerte became fascinated with the works of Rembrandt, Durero, and Goya,as well as the intense work of Antonio Saura. The definitive irruption of the Neo-figurativism happened at the beginning of the 1970s, where Jose Carreño and Villafuerte represented Spain and Ecuador.