This is ‘Racismo’ by Bolivian artist Vidal Cussi, part of the solo exhibit ‘El Silencio’ at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Plaza in La Paz, Bolivia, last April. It was the first time I saw racism depicted through the brush and eyes of an Aymara, an Andean indigenous culture whose traditional masks look nothing like the one illustrated in the painting above.
Here Cussi’s unique style involved layers: creating or emphasizing them and then tearing them back or exposing them. There are thinly-veiled blankets of loneliness portrayed but there is also strength cloaked in a veneer of fear.
Cussi (b. 1983), is a graduate of the National Academy of Fine Arts, ives and works in nearby El Alto, the sprawling suburb of more than a million people in the high plain above La Paz. An employee at the museum told me Cussi is one of the most widely regarded young artists working in the country today.
Besides a few short interviews in Bolivian newspapers or news websites, there is not much to be found on Cussi on the web. His work definitely deserves a wider audience. Here is a gallery of 11 pieces from the exhibit and below that an earlier work, ‘Una Mirada al Destino’, to give you a glimpse of Cussi’s wide and eclectic range. The color reproductions here aren’t perfect and for that I apologize, but there’s only so much one can do when limited to flash-free hand-held high ISO shooting.