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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cándido Bidó

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, colors reminiscent of Candido Bido.
When you read this, on Wednesday, December 28, 2016, my wife and I, along with my sister and brother-in-law, will be spending about eight hours in the Dominican Republic. For those not familiar with the numerous islands of the Caribbean, not to mention the countries and cultures which inhabit them, the Dominican Republic occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles archipelago. Santo Domingo is its capital. The western portion of the island is Haiti. Both are what would be considered third-world countries, though Haiti might actually be considered a fourth world country (if there is such a designation) in comparison to its more prosperous eastern neighbor. The Dominican Republic is the second largest country in the Caribbean after Cuba. We will not be visiting the crowded capital but a more tourist-friendly town called Puerto Plata (above) on the northern coast of the island. We're following in the footsteps of another famous tourist, Christopher Columbus, who first visited the island 524 years ago on December 5th, 1492. Today, the Dominican Republic is the most visited tourist destination in the Caribbean. Columbus must have done his homework.
Candido Bido's painting style and colors are often imitated
by other Dominican Republic artists to the point they have
become iconic of virtually all the country's art.
Speaking of homework, I was in the process of doing my own when I came upon arguably the most famous artist of the Dominican Republic, a painter named Candido Bido. The artist was born in 1936 and raised in Bonao, some sixty miles south of Puerto Plata in the central highlands of the country. He graduated from one of the top ten schools of fine arts in the world, the Escuela de Altos de Chavon in Santo Domingo. Starting in 1962 Bido served as assistant professor and faculty professor at the National School of Arts. Later, Bido founded the Cándido Bidó Art Center in Santo Domingo, where he taught painting, drawing, and sculpture. However, in 1987 Bido closed the art center and left the Cándido Bidó Art Gallery in Santo Domingo. He founded the Cultural Center Plaza in his hometown of Bonao, along with the Cándido Bidó Art Museum, also in Bonao. Then in 1996, he also founded the School of Arts of the Dominican Air Force in Santo Domingo. Every air force should have its own art school, right?

Madres, 1993, Candido Bido.
Pursuing the art of Candido Bido has not been easy. Although there's a reasonable number and variety of his works to be found online; of them all, I could find only one, the painting title Madres (above), that had either a title or a date (1993). However, the painting is highly representative of Bido's overall work as can be seen in the montage of his work (below), none of which were titled or dated. Two distinctive elements can quickly be seen in Bido's work, his extremely hot, bright, Caribbean colors, and his compositional affection for the circle. Also, most of his works feature women. Bidó portrays a countryside, both real and surreal, populated with men, women, and children who inhabit a pre-technical world--a fusion of races; black, white and indigenous Arawak. Merging with their luminous landscape, they are naïve, mystical archetypes. Their mask-like faces evoke a surprising poignancy; their farmland is wild, but benign. Candido Bido died in 2011 from a heart condition. He was seventy-four years of age. As one of the most famous artists in Dominican Republic, he not only introduced modern art to his native land, he also introduced the Dominican Republic to the rest of the world.

Bido's love of the circle is said to derive from the hot Caribbean sun.
Birds and fruit are another common characteristic of Bido's art.
The Dominican Republic is more than just golden sandy beaches, tropical forests and a setting somewhat reminiscent of Jurassic Park. Beneath the surface, there is a world of rich culture, intriguing history, and most of all, world-class contemporary art. Santo Domingo's major art museum, the Galería de Arte Moderno, has a collection of Bidó's paintings. His work is also displayed at the Fundación Bonao Para La Cultura, the organization he started in his hometown of Bonao to provide art education, entertainment, and cultural facilities to the Cibao community. With the sun as the hallmark of much of Bidó's, his colors are super-intense. Sun-hot colors were so integral to Bidó's work that at one point, the gallery sold small cans of his signature paints, custom colors he created himself--blazing yellows, turquoise-sea blues and fiery shades of orange.

Olivia Peguero Painting in
la Playa Limon de Guaco Miches


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