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Maxine Schur

Caribbean Connection
Candido Bido:
Art of Sizzle and Soul

On a quiet street in residential Santo Domingo, the Galeria de Arte Candido Bido sizzles with tropical color. A stunning array of paints blaze with ripe orange suns, violet skies, cinnamon-gold women and dazzling yellow daisies. Candido Bido is one of the Dominican Republic's most famous contemporary artists. His extraordinary paintings are exhibited worldwide and have been featured in several monographs of the artist. Yet it is the rare tourist who has even heard of Bido let alone stumbled upon his gallery. This ignorance has as much to do with its off-the-tourist-track location as it does with the artist himself. A quiet, modest man, Bido has attained greatness in part because he promotes others rather than himself. His paintings reflect great love for the people who live in his native, rural Cibao Valley.

"I can see them and feel them always around me," says Bido. "If I attempted to forget them. I would not be true to myself."

Santo Domingo's major art museum, the excellent Galeria de Arte Moderno, has a collection of Bido's paintings. You can also find his work, and often the artist himself at the Fundacion Bonao Para La Cultura, the organization he started in his hometown of Bonao to provide art education, entertainment and cultural facilities to the Cibao community. But to get a real understanding of Bido, make your way to his gallery where you might just feel his art.

The sun is the hallmark of much of Bido's work and his colors are intense. Standing next to one of his paintings is almost like standing in the shimmering, humid heat of the Caribbean at midday. Indeed sun-hot colors are so integral to Bido's work that the gallery sells small cans of his signature paints, custom colors he created himself: blazing yellows, turquoise-sea blues and fiery shades of orange.

After graduating from the School of Fine Arts in Santo Domingo, Bido became a master draftsman and worked as a teacher in the 1950s while developing his unique style -- applying vivid colors in a multitude of hues, often layering them with tiny details such as dots, flowers and bush strokes. For more than 40 years, the artist has drawn inspiration from the Cibao Valley, where a native Amerindian population farms rice, coffee, yam and banana crops.

Bido depicts a country side, both real and magical, populated with men, women and children who inhabit a pre-technical world and who appear as a fusion of races -- black, white and indigenous Arawak. Merging with their luminous landscape, they are naive, mystical archetypes. Their mask-like faces evoke a surprising poignancy; their farmland is surreal but benign.

Picasso once declared, "Art washes away the dust of everyday life." A Bido painting does just that -- it suggests the simplicity, even poverty of a specific people but also reveals their heart. A gigantic sun with a brushstroke halo keeps watch over mothers, fishermen, farmers and peddlers who show a clumsy, sweet tenderness for each other. Enormous birds float through a cerulean air, are worn like hats, or are lovingly caressed. In the still lifes, blue, pink and purple fruit becomes the stuff of magic. It is an enchanted and lush Antillean Paradise that Bido wants us to see -- the world before the Fall yet strangely of our own world too -- the one that seduces us with its universal depiction of yearning love and hope.

Galeria de Arte Candido Bido
Dr. Baez #5 Ens. Gazcue
Open Mondays through Fridays 9:30-12:30 and 3:00-6:30

Galeria de Arte Moderno
Plaza de Cultura on Calle Maximo Gomez
809- 685-2153 Open Tuesdays through Sundays 10 to 5

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Articles from the Caribbean
  Dionisio Blanco
  Candido Bido
  Sharon Wilson
  Dennis Valentine
  Don Dahlke
  Maria Henle
  Amos Ferguson
  Paradise on Earth
  Cristina Emmanuel
  Omeilia Marshall
  Giving the Devil His Due
  Euphoria in Eleuthera



Artwork: Girl with a Red Box:
A Mother.


©Maxine Rose Schur 2015. Reproducing or copying photos and articles is strictly prohibited unless expressly granted by the owner. All photos are by the author unless specified.



Maxine Rose Schur  :    Author, Writer, Speaker, Actress

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