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 of his artistic career.
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.
Today, we want to remember some of the most important moments in his career:
In 1953 he had his first exhibition at the National Museum of Bogota with figurative works with a surrealist accent and only two years later he exhibited at the National Library. In both exhibitions, Manzur demonstrated a mixture of talents and showed from that moment on the theatricality that continues to accompany him to this day.
In 1964, he won a fellowship at the Pratt Graphic Art Center, awarded by the Panamerican Union in New York. But it was not the first grant he won for his talent, as a couple of years earlier he had won the Guggenheim for two consecutive years; making New York a key city in his formation as an artist.
In 1970 he participated in the II Biennial of Coltejer Medellin and was awarded by the government of Antioquia for the series of paintings of San Sebastian.
In 2011 he launched his exhibition “Rusty Cities” at the Museum of Modern Art in Bogota, where he pays tribute to two Baroque painters: Francisco de Zurbarán and Diego Velázquez. Painters who influenced his career and love of art.
During 2019 and 2020 makes his exhibition “El oficio de la pintura” In the museum of modern art of Bogota. It was an analogous exhibition that put in conversation the poetics and plasticity of colonial works and their recreations in modern times, as is the case of Manzur’s San Jorge series.
And in 2022 he made his exhibition “Time, Space and Memory” in Medellin, at the Duque Arango Gallery, a very varied selection that showed works from the series of The Rusty Cities, The Horses, The Meninas, musical instruments, still lifes, and some very beautiful paintings with female characters; in short, a quantification of the production of this Colombian artist, would yield information of incredible proportions.
Undoubtedly, 70 years of career is a short time for all the legacy and importance that David Manzur has left in the history of Art in the country, and more.