At 93 years old, David Manzur continues to delight us with his painting as if it were the first day, but this year marks 70 years since the beginning
David Manzur was born in Neira, a mountainous region in northwestern Colombia, on December 14, 1929. During 1934, his parents decided to move to Lebanon as a consequence of an economic crisis, but not before a stopover in Spain. So it was that already on the trip the Civil War broke out, completely changing the family’s plans and almost forcing them to settle elsewhere, more specifically in the port of Bata, capital of Spanish Guinea (now Equatorial Guinea), Africa.
When the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939, it seemed that they could now stick to their original plan, but that same year saw the first fighting of World War II. Their parents, having the safety and education of their children as a priority, decided to board in religious schools in the Canary Islands. David Manzur remembers how strict the school seemed to him, and how difficult it was to be so far away from his family (they were 17 days away). But it wasn’t all bad, because that’s where he had his first approach to painting.
In the school dining room there were several paintings by great Spanish painters: in the dining room there were two paintings by Zurbarán and one by Velásquez. There, observing and unknowingly, this approach would awaken in him an interest in art.
By the end of 1946, he and his family returned to Colombia and settled in the municipality of Armenia. Later, in 1951, he would go to Bogotá, to the Escuela de Bellas Artes, but it would not take him long to abandon his studies there and so he became one of the first students of the Escuela de Arte Dramático. Thanks to this he had the opportunity to meet poets and artists who encouraged him to continue living persistently with love for art. Not long after, in 1953, he held his first solo exhibition at the National Museum.
In 1956 he obtained a scholarship from Canadian industrialist Hugh Slight, to study in New York, a place, like all those he visited, from which he took a part to capture in his paintings.
Today, at 92 years of age, he is one of the most important and beloved painters in the country. The poetry and theatricality of his works is difficult to find in other authors. In 2019 he was decorated by former President Iván Duque with the Order of Boyacá.