One of the most interesting and thought-provoking places we visited in Quito is up in a secluded neighborhood far outside of the city center. It’s the home and masterpiece of indigenous artist and world-renowned master painter and sculptor Oswaldo Guayasamín (1919-1999).
Near the end of his life, Guayasamín set up a foundation, Fundación Guayasamín, and donated his home along with his entire collection of colonial, pre-Columbian, and modern art, and many of his own works to his home country of Ecuador. The result was the Museo Guayasamín and Capilla del Hombre.
House and Studio
First, we visited his house and studio. On an hour-long guided tour, we were shown countless pieces of art from Guayasamín’s private collection. They were all meticulously placed throughout the house, including around his bedroom, bathroom, and closet. Near the end of the tour, we visited his studio and a gallery of his own works, mostly dedicated to the struggle of the indigenous and poor workers of South America. A good amount of the works were haunting and immediately produced a multitude of feelings.
Árbol de la Vida
The tour exited through a gift shop to a patio with an outdoor pool and a tree called the Árbol de la Vida (Tree of Life). Guayasamín and his best friend are buried underneath the tree.
Capilla del Hombre
Next, we visited the indescribable Capilla del Hombre (Chapel of Man), which is one of the most important works of art in South America. It is Guayasamín’s masterpiece and contains some incredible paintings, mosaics, and sculptures. Unfortunately, it wasn’t completed until 2002, three years after his death.
The Capilla del Hombre is dedicated to the struggle and suffering of humans, caused by humans themselves, and the infinite hope that one day the suffering and inhumanity will end. It’s a very emotional place and we were captivated by every detail. We could truly feel the pain and hope emanating from the artwork. Photography is not allowed inside.
Admission is US$8 and hours are 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday. Tours are available in English and Spanish. A taxi from the historic city should cost around US$5.