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José Gamarra was born in Uruguay in 1934. He studied painting at an early age since art was an important component at his elementary school in Montevido. In fact, he exhibited his first art pieces at the age of thirteen and has never ceased to paint since then.
He pursued his art studies at the School of Art in Montevido and received a grant allowing him to study art at the Modern Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro. Soon exhibited his work in Brazil and participated to several salons there. For three years he taught art in Sao Paulo and traveled extensively in Uruguay and Argentina. His work was part of many exhibitions in South America, in the USA and Europe. Recipient of several awards in Uruguay, this is a French grant for young artists that allowed Gamarra to move to Paris in 1963 where he still lives and works.
His artwork is described as fresh and spontaneous, two qualities one artist only achieves after a rigorous training. For the last decades, Gamarra has blended the often brutal origins of South America to the exuberance of the luxurious landscape of the rainforest. Drawing characters and animals with a complex detailed background, Gamarra shows his unique ability to combine naïf and academic elements. His paintings express almost surrealistic situations where present and past are cleverly woven.
Analyzing a painting from Gamarra is a challenging experience since the artist presents a critic of history to his viewers who have to interpret it with their own judgment and sensibility.
Gamarra’s concern for South America is palpable in his work from his early childhood drawings to the period when he was interested in pre- Columbian symbols to his late twentieth century luxuriant Amazonian forests populated with small characters and animals. His pieces never cease to tell of a continent that has struggled to survive.
Jose Gamarra’s extensive work can be viewed in many museums and galleries in South and North America and Europe as well as in temporary exhibits in galleries.