Oscar Colón was a Puerto Rican painter and teacher known for his representations of Puerto Rican landscapes and figures. Along with his contemporaries, he tried to express on canvas the characteristics that defined Puerto Rican culture.
Born in the municipality of Hatillo in 1889, as a child, Colón showed a special talent for painting. He was self-taught, taking advantage of art books and his observations of nature. Later, he moved to Arecibo, where he lived for most of his life. He earned a living as a telegraph operator and secretary for the Justice of the Peace court in the municipality and painted in his free time. In 1938, he founded the Academy of Art in Arecibo, where he served as a teacher. Later, he founded art schools in Caguas, Utuado and Hatillo.
His work consisted mainly of rural landscapes and portraits of ordinary people. Along with other artists of his era, such as Miguel Pou (1888-1968) and Ramón Frade (1875-1954), he tried to represent the customs, daily life and landscapes of the island as a means of defining Puerto Rican identity. Among his works, which are characterized by a realistic style with romantic touches, are Central Cambalache (1915), Paisaje de Arecibo (1918), Jíbaro negro (1941) and La canasta vacía (1931), probably his best known work.
His first exhibition took place in Arecibo in 1919. Later, his works where exhibited in other towns on the island as well as in Santo Domingo and New York. Today, most of his work is in private collections, such as the Ponce Museum of Art and the collection of the insurance cooperative Seguros Múltiples de Puerto Rico.
He died in 1968 in Río Piedras.
“Datos biográficos de algunos pintores puertorriqueños modernos”. Boletín de la Academia de Artes y Ciencias de Puerto Rico 5 núm. 2 abr-jun 1969: 207-226.
Gran Enciclopedia de Puerto Rico
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 03, 2014.
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