Jaime Colson

Jaime Colson

One of the most important Dominican painters of the 20th century.

Jaime Antonio González Colson was born in Puerto Plata in 1901. In 1918, Colson studied at the Barcelona School of Fine Arts under the tutelage of painters Cecilio Pla y Gallardo, Julio Romero de Torres and Pedro Carbonell.From 1920 to 1923, he attended the San Fernando School of Fine Arts in Madrid, where he took classes with Joaquín Sorolla.

In Spain, he struck up friendships with artists of the stature of Maruja Mallo, Rafael Barradas and Salvador Dalí. In Paris, where he lived for several years, he came to know renowned figures such as Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, masters of the cubist school that influenced his style. Some of the pieces he produced during that time that show the cubist influence on his work were Naturaleza muerta and Familia catalana.

Colson lived in Mexico for four years, from 1934 through 1938, and became friends with Mexicans Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco, with Wifredo Lam, of Cuba, and Dominican philologist Pedro Henríquez Ureña. Works of his from this era include Bodegón, Desamparados and Merengue.

After a brief stay in Cuba, where he became friends with painter Mario Carreño, he returned to the Dominican Republic. On his native island, President Rafael L. Trujillo commissioned him for a portrait, which was never done. In 1939, he returned to Europe and spent ten years living alternately in Spainand France. In 1942, he painted El colegial, El lector and Hermanos. Later, he experimented with paintings with religious or mystical themes, including various ecclesiastical murals. Colson was a devoted Catholic his entire life and married his companion, Toyo Kurimoto, of Japan, in a Catholic ceremony. His exploration of religious themes also included other traditions, however, such as his Baquiní y la ciguapa del Camú from 1949, which shows a ritual wake for a dead infant. A year earlier, he had displayed El compte Arnau, one of his most colorful and famous works.

He returned to the Dominican Republic in 1950 when Trujillo named him General Manager of the School of Fine Arts. He resigned in 1952. He was admitted to the José María Cabral y Báez Hospital in Santiago de los Caballeros due to fatigue and alcoholism. After leaving the hospital, he began a solitary and quiet life in which he dedicated himself more fully to painting.

In the mid-1950s, his style mixed cubism with the theme of negritud. Rostro geométrico, Fiesta en Guachupita and El ídolo azul are examples. In 1954, he showed his series La catarsis (created in 1947) that disappeared three years later in the capital of Venezuela. Some critics consider it his masterpiece. The frank sexuality of the paintings caused a stir and the photographs of the series by Ana María Schwartz still remain.

Colson also wrote poetry and theatrical works. He dedicated the final years of his life to continuing his work and teaching the techniques of mural painting. He died of throat cancer in Santo Domingo on November 20, 1975.

Author: Alejandro Carpio
Published: May 07, 2012.

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