Being a member of the International Women’s Club in Santo Domingo has its perks and yesterday was just one of those days. We were given a private tour of the world of Fernando Pena Defillo’s work at the Palacio Bellas Artes by the Director of the Galeria Nacional de Bellas Artes herself, and what a fascinating two hours it turned out to be…
The Palacio de Bellas Artes was constructed and started during the dictator Trujillo’s reign, a lover of art himself he worked with people from all over the world to put together this impressive structure. It is said by some that out of the guilt of his mass killings of Haitians during his reign, he sought to open the doors to foreign intellectuals including the Spanish Artist such as Vela Zanetti who painted one of the murals in the Palacio de Bellas Artes. He painted Trujillo in the middle of what seems to be an educational composition but of course after his murder, Trujillo he was painted over. The painting below is the up to date version.
Fernando Pena Defillo’s work
Defillo was born in Santo Domingo in 1928 to a diplomatic father. So at the outset it should be premised that he was a lover of art but could afford to make it his life mission. This is reflected in the diversity of his body of work. He has the freedom to experiment something which most artists only dream of doing. He can paint in almost any style and continues to do so. Although he did not at the outset intend to make political commentary through his work, he could not escape what was going on around him. As a result has produced some poignant works of art commenting on the dark aspects of Trujillo’s reign through his figurative drawings as seen below, but also other works of art that are simply a documentation of domestic life in some cases.
Thank you to Marianne de Tolentino, Directora de la Galeria Nacional de Bellas Artes for her impassioned tour of Pena Defillo’s work. It was a pleasure viewing the vast body of work of a Dominican Artist and his life’s work. We look forward to seeing more of his work and visiting the Museo Fernando Pena Defillo in the Zona Colonial.