GALLERIES/Ben Elwes Fine Art
Alejandro Mario Yllanes (1913-c. 1960)
Lake Titicaca, 1935
Oil on canvas
187.9 × 233.6 cm. (74 × 92 in.)
Ben Elwes Fine Art has an established reputation as a specialist dealer in the field of Old Master and Modern paintings, drawings and sculpture. Ben, together with his wife Rachel Layton Elwes who comes from an American academic and museum background, founded the gallery in 2004 in the heart of Mayfair. Their clients include some of the world's major museums including the National Gallery, Tate Britain, the Musée du Louvre, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Recent sales by Ben Elwes Fine Art from the London Art Week platform have included Sunlight and Showers by Anna Boberg (1864-1935), acquired by the Art Gallery of Ontario; The Captured Runaway by William Gale (1823-1909), acquired by Bowdoin College Museum of Art; the newly discovered portrait of Mrs Mary Robinson in the character of Nun by John Singleton Copley (1738-1815), acquired by The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens; A Young Woman kneeling at a Prayer Desk by the major Scottish artist David Wilkie (1785-1841), acquired by the National Gallery, London, following its rediscovery by Ben Elwes Fine Art; and the early abolitionist painting Am Not I A Man and A Brother, c. 1800 acquired by National Museums Liverpool.
Alejandro Mario Yllanes (1913-c.1960), The Monumental Paintings
Ben Elwes Fine Art, this autumn, will be exhibiting a group of extraordinary monumental paintings not seen for the last 30 years by the Aymara Bolivian artist Alejandro Mario Yllanes (1913-c.1960). Yllanes was a precocious, self-taught artist whose indigenous narrative and astonishing portrayals of the Aymara people are profound and compelling.
Born in 1913 in La Paz, Bolivia, Yllanes articulated the political turmoil in his country with boldness and vibrancy. Perceived as a provocative agitator, in 1936 the government sentenced him to a year of internal exile in the Amazon jungle, during which Yllanes absorbed the vivid tropical colours of his surroundings which he later brought to his paintings. The works featured in the present exhibition were first shown during the artist's travels to Ecuador, Peru and Mexico. The renowned muralist, Diego Rivera (1886-1957), advocated for Yllanes and wrote an introduction for his 1946 exhibition in Mexico City. Yllanes later travelled to New York where he was awarded, but never collected, a Guggenheim Foundation Grant before mysteriously disappearing on his return to Bolivia in about 1960, possibly the victim of a political assassination.
Ben Elwes Fine Art will offer for sale the surviving seven monumental paintings by Alejandro Mario Yllanes, exhibiting them in the United Kingdom for the first time. This follows the gallery's initial showing of the drawings and wood engravings during London Art Week this summer.
The exhibition is accompanied by an online catalogue with an essay on Bolivian Indigenism by Dr Michele Greet, Professor of modern Latin American art history at George Mason University and author of Beyond National Identity: Pictorial Indigenism as a Modernist Strategy in Andean Art, 1920-1960 (Penn State University Press: 2009).
The exhibition runs from 18 September to 15 December 2023 (Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5:30pm, or by appointment) at Ben Elwes Fine Art, 45 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2PE.
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