Jaime Antonio Gumercindo González Colson

Jaime Antonio Gumercindo González Colson (13 January 1901 – 20 November 1975) was a Dominican modernist painter, writer, and playwright born in Tubagua, Puerto Plata in 1901. He is remembered as one of the most important Dominican artists of the 20th century, and as one of the leading figures of the modernist movement in 20th century Dominican art, along with Yoryi Morel, Dario Suro, and Celeste Woss y Gil.

His travels to Spain and France in the early 20th century led to his experimenting with Cubism, Surrealism and other avant-garde styles. He struck up friendships with artists like Maruja Mallo, Rafael Barradas and Salvador Dalí in Spain, and in Paris, came to know Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, masters of the cubist school that influenced his style. In 1934, he decided to leave Europe for Mexico to teach art, where he befriended artists like José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera.

After leaving Mexico in 1938, Colson became professor at the art academy in Havana, Cuba to teach his “cubismo neo-humanista”. The Cuban artist Mario Carreño was one of his pupils.

In May 1938, Colson held an art exhibition for the first time in his country in Santo Domingo, at that time, Ciudad Trujillo. Years later, dictator Rafael Trujillo would go on to appoint him Director of the School of Fine Arts in 1950, though Colson resigned in 1952, less than two years later as a result of the repressive regime.

Colson’s art has mostly been described as Cubist, Surrealist, and Neohumanist. He is best known for his development of Neohumanismo (or Neohumanism) and Caribbean cubism or Afro-cubism. His most notable works include Merengue (1938), and his series Figuras Metafisicas (1930). Colson also wrote poetry and theatrical works.

Colson was a devoted Catholic his entire life and married his companion, Toyo Kurimoto, of Japan, in a Catholic ceremony. He died of throat cancer in Santo Domingo on November 20, 1975. Many of his works are displayed in the Museo Bellapart in Santo Domingo.

Colson’s works blend Cubism, Surrealism, Symbolism, Expressionism, and Neoclassicism into a style described as Neohumanism that he became known for. During his years in Paris, Colson got to know the work of Giorgio De Chirico and Pablo Picasso who were two of his biggest influences. The influence of De Chirico can be seen in his works from the 30s and 40s, in the use of perspective and scenography, themes towards the metaphysical and surrealist, the return to the classical, unreal atmospheres, and the reinterpretations of Mediterranean mythology. All of this penetrated deeply into Colson’s aesthetic. The mystery and loneliness that emanate from De Chirico’s paintings can also be seen in Colson’s work.

In addition, Colson was influenced by the readings of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), whose dream analysis had an impact on Colson’s more surrealistic paintings. Religious or mystical themes were also repeatedly explored in his various ecclesiastical murals and paintings, representing biblical and hagiographic subjects like El comte Arnau, one of his most colorful and famous works. Other works include Baquiní y la ciguapa del Camú from 1949, which shows a ritual wake for a dead infant.

Colson in his 1962 painting Los heroes de la calle Espaillat, not only perfectly captures all his evolution, from cubism, religious painting, fresco painting and neo-humanism, but also, due to its theme, delves into the social and the political environment of the time, that paid tribute to the student revolutionaries who were arrested, tortured, and killed by the dictatorship, on October 20, 1961

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