Ada Balcácer

Ada Balcácer

Important Dominican artist and professor.

Ada Balcácer was born in 1930 in San Juan de la Maguana but lived in Santo Domingo for many years. In 1951, she graduated from the National School of Fine Arts, under the direction of Gilberto Hernández Ortega, José Gausachs and Manolo Pascual. Later, Balcácer taught art classes at her alma mater. She also studied at the University of Puerto Rico (she took a workshop with Eugenio Fernández Granell of Spain), the Art Students League and the Fashion Institute of Technology, both in New York City.

She chaired the School of Drawing in the Architecture Department of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. In 1980, she formed a program to support the professional development of women, called Women in Industry. In the late 1960s, Balcácer was a founding member of the group Proyecta, which included important figures in the arts such as Domingo Liz, Fernando Peña Defilló, Ramón Oviedo, Félix Gontier and Gaspar Mario Cruz. This group experimented with various visual arts styles and techniques. She was also part of the Cultural Front and New Image artistic movements.

Balcácer participated in the First Hispanoamerican Biennial in Madrid, the Puerto Rico Engraving Biennial, the Iberoamerican Exhibition in Madrid, and she has exhibited her work at the Athenaeum in San Juan, the Yugoslavia Museum of Modern Art, the Havana National Museum and the Fine Arts Palace in Mexico, among others. She has also won various prizes, including the E. León Jiménez Prize (1966) and the Mural for City Banken Santo Domingo contest (1983). She also received an honorable mention at the Fifth Cali Graphic Arts Biennial (1986).

The artist has developed a style characterized by clear, soft colors that are projected in a well thought-out composition. Ninfas, for example, presents an anthropomorphic figure surrounded by lotus flowers and water lilies. The painting contains various faint tones of green and blue (with the occasional violet and gray) and beautifully recreates the sensation of water. Another work with a watery theme, though much more colorful, is Después del naufragio (After the Shipwreck), in which swimmers, fish and a jellyfish appear.

The lotus flower reappears in various paintings by Balcácer. She often takes flowers as her theme. Curva transparente, for example, from 1974, portrays a crystal flower vase holding various violet-colored flowers. The mauve and silver background of the painting somehow spreads the delicate tones of the flowers throughout the entire composition. In a much more recent painting, Floral (2009), the artist did just the opposite, as the pink and melon-colored flower has little in common with the dark gold background and the indigo shadow it casts.

In recent years, Balcácer has lived in southern Florida, where many of her works have also been exhibited.

Author: Alejandro Carpio
Published: June 06, 2012.

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