Ecuador Art / Ecuador Culture

Unique New Tourist Attraction in Ambato, Ecuador

I sense a pilgrimage to Ambato in my future.  According to the Lonely Planet, Ecuador artist and muralist David Moscoso has single-handedly created “a new tourist attraction.”  Visitors are awed by his visual praise anthem to the natural world, a mural of volcanoes that graces the dome of a new cathedral in Parque Juan Montalvo in the city of Ambato, two hours south of Quito.  The old cathedral was laid waste in an earthquake that struck in 1949.

In his younger days as an artist he used to draw images of the Sistine Chapel, but there are no angels, devils, saints or even God in Moscoso’s own chapel ceiling.  His dome in Ambato portrays only skies, clouds and the majestic volcanoes of Ecuador, yet he is able to turn our thoughts to the Divine.

Ambato-dome-Cotapaxi

Cotapaxi Volcano

The volcanoes in his mural are part of what is known as the Avenue of the Volcanoes.  They are Tungurahua, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Altar, Sangay, Cayambe and Antisana.

Moscoso’s art is evocative of the vistas painted by Frederic Edwin Church, a 19th century North American landscape artist who also captured on canvas the sublime beauty of the Andean wilderness.  The panoramic landscapes of Turner, Constable and Thomas Moran inspired Moscoso to create a whole new genre.

His worldview was more deeply molded by Incan mythology and the writings of Alexander Humboldt, the great German scientific explorer whose name identifies the Humboldt current.  Humboldt wrote of the uniqueness of the Andes, where a single spot on earth encompasses all of earth’s altitudes and where,  “. . .it is given man in those regions to behold . . . all the forms of vegetation dispersed over the globe, and all the shining worlds which stud the heavenly vault from pole to pole.”1

Thus Moscoso’s cosmology spans a time-frame from a pre-Hispanic ancient Andean past where mankind experienced all the elements of nature as a unified whole, to a future in which man can once more experience a direct and personal unification with nature.  His  vision is explicitly expressed in his work on the Ambato dome.

In an 2010 interview Moscoso revealed his artistic mission.  In discussing the relationship of art/nature and people/culture/environment, the interviewer asked him to comment on what Andean culture brings to environmentalism.  Moscoso replied, “Right now it is absolutely necessary to re-edit and re-visit the Andean Memory. . .In the near future, focusing our minds and eyes on the surviving regions of living nature will definitely determine the outcome of either the death or survival of the planet. Whereas in the past these words seemed unnecessarily alarmist, in today’s climate they are a reality.” 

I share Moscoso’s cosmovision for a new paradigm that not only invites the natural world back into our sphere of religious experience, but also calls upon us to restore Gaia to her rightful place as a being to be revered.

I’m also filled with a new appreciation for the unique place that Ecuador occupies.  Its enormous range of elevations from sea to snow-caps and biodiversity like nowhere else on earth grants tiny Ecuador a rare position from which heaven and earth can more easily be sensed as a unified field.

Llanganati2-Moscoso

LlanganatiII

Moscoso is working on a book project that will include lithographs of two of his favorite landscape paintings, Llanganati I and II He plans to scent one of the pages with a floral Andean fragrance.

A YouTube video shows the dome in color after about two minutes of grainy historic black and white photos of the cathedral ruins following the earthquake.

1) Alexander von Humboldt, Aspects of Nature in Different Lands and Different Climates: With Scientific Elucidations, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1850, 2: 31.

 

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