to paint professionally, though he has been painting since childhood.
At this time his paintings are figurative: he paints from live models,
as well as still lifes and portraits. Has been studying since 1954
with the Dutch painter Jan Schreuder and working at the studio of
the North American painter, Lloyd Wulf, until 1960. In 1951 begins
formal studies in architecture
the "Mariano Aguilera" Prize with the canvas Man, House
and Moon using very austere elements and simple, contrasting planes.
The textures are either very smooth or very thick and enclosed in
well delimited spaces. This is his symbolic expressionistic stage.
Is appointed professor of the School of Architecture of the Central
University of Ecuador in Quito where he serves until 1989.
Participates with the Brazilian folklorist Paulo de Carvalho
Neto in researching Ecuadorian folklore. Founds the Ecuadorian Institute
of Folklore which he directs for several years. This experience
of direct contact with the physical environment of Ecuador and folk
cultures has a long-lasting impact and clarifies and enriches his
vision of Latin American reality. He is very much focussed the ancestral
past and also on the present. Cultural symbols, signs, icons already
appear in his work. Begins to receive local and intenational recognition
and is awarded many important prizes.
/ 1968 The
First stage of the abstract period:
constrained by his symbolic work and perceiving it as too structured,
rigid and hard, Viteri embarks into the abstract, first by drawing
only with lines made with a ball-paint pen, and later by painting
canvasses with large daubs of color. His need to reach a synthesis
leads him to abstract gestural compositions with pre-Columbian reminiscences
and a permanent questioning about
where do we come from and who are we? He believes in art that has
content and meaning. His abstract drawings and paintings are free
and spontaneous and somewhat influenced by action painting. The
deep interest in Zen Buddhism shown by those painters, and also
by Viteri since 1955, later generated his neofigurative and abstract-gestural
strain mainly in the form of ink drawings.
Second stage of the abstract: Viteri
does not only use the brush to apply paint, he squeezes the paint
directly from the tube onto the canvas. This work characterized
by strong impastos strives for authenticity. It is likewise a stage
of profound aesthetic-plastic concern embodied in the use of large
In Quito Viteri meets Viola a Spanish painter belonging
to the "El Paso" group in Madrid, which comprises artists
of the stature of Saura, Feito, Millares, among others. Viola is
also into the gestural abstract genre and shares Viteri's atelier
in the School of Arts, which Viteri directs since 1966. They work
jointly on paintings. Once Viteri's interest in abstract is spent,
he undertakes a new search, both conceptual and technical, leading
to the assemblages.
This gives rise to a new language that seems to disavow painting
as such, for it incorporates into what it was formerly a painted
surface, objects drawn from ancestral and folk cultures, objects
whose inner life -prior to the work of art- is irreversibly transformed
within a new a esthetic-plastic context. These objects -sackcloth,
chasubles, rag dolls- acquire new contents that are both conceptual
and time-space related and also leave their own symbolical-plastic
richness to the work of art which is thus also transformed.
Travels to Spain, an experience that increases the need to delve
further into this new language, the assemblage. In Madrid he strikes
up a friendship with the Jewish-Polish painter, Maryan, works with
him and feels his influence in a new neofigurative period which
produces many ink drawings charged with an emotional dramatic expression.
This period of strong emotional crisis is also one of international
recognition of his assemblages embodying the concept of mestization:
the merging of cultures.
in a number of murals and sculpture projects. Travels throughout
different countries, sometimes as juror of important international
events. So far has participateejer in Medellín, Colombia.
continues to work on his assemblages, but portraits and figurative
drawings are still significant facets. His work is increasingly
diversified and rich in technical as well as thematic experiences
and conceptual approaches. In 1992 he returnes to oil painting and
produces large Andean landscapes of an abstract-expressionist trend
which he continues to explore.
Viteri asserts his permanent interest in the contemporary world,
his own environment, the need for the strengthening and acknowledging
our American identity.
began to work in a new technical-conceptual direction in 1968, when
the gestural abstract mode no longer provided a response to his
personal concerns, particularly in the anthropological area. Where
do we come from and who are we? are questions that began to take
shape once he abnadoned painting and incorporated, in a new format,
those "symbol-objects" gathered from his experiences in
Therefore, the assemblages do not only act through objets bearing
prior significances and related to his own context, but also through
the notion and use of fragments. The imprint left in our memory
by those fragments - bits and pieces of the world- enables us to
rebuild the whole; that is, the heterogeneous, contradictory, mestizo
and hybrid identity of Latin America.
Having achieved international recognition and prizes in biennial
shows and in exhibits, and especially critical acclaim, Viteri left
abstract-gestural painting towards 1968. He abandoned it for assemblages,
for the need to find an identity beyond the mere personal one. In
the early nineties, after the assemblages, a very demanding and
conceptually powerful medium, had satisfied much of his restless
quest, Viteri returned to oil painting, but with a more gestural
than abstract bent. The Andean landscapes or neofigurative heads
are repeatedly portrayed in an experience that liberates him from
the constraints of very controlled spaces and meanings, of precise
and well thought out colors.