Oswaldo Guayasamín (July 6, 1919 – March 10, 1999) was an Ecuadorian master painter and sculptor of Quechua and Mestizo heritage.
Guayasamín was born in Quito, Ecuador, to a native father and a Mestiza mother, both of Quechua descent. His family was poor and his father worked as a carpenter for most of his life. Oswaldo Guayasamín later worked as a taxi and truck driver. He was the first child of ten children in his family. When he was young, he enjoyed drawing caricatures of his teachers and the children that he played with. He showed an early love for art. He created a Pan-American art of human and social inequalities which achieved international recognition.
He graduated from the School of Fine Arts in Quito as a painter and sculptor. He also studied architecture there. He held his first exhibition when he was 23, in 1942. While he was attending college, his best friend died during a demonstration in Quito. This incident would later inspire one of his paintings, “Los Niños Muertos” (The Dead Children). This event also helped him to form his vision about the people and the society that he lived in.
Guayasamín won the first prize at the Ecuadorian Salón Nacional de Acuarelistas y Dibujantes in 1948. He also won the first prize at the Third Hispano-American Biennial of Art in Barcelona, Spain, in 1955. In 1957, at the Fourth Biennial of São Paulo, he was named the best South American painter.
Guayasamín met Jose Clemente Orozco while traveling in the United States of America and Mexico from 1942 to 1943. They traveled together to many of the diverse countries in South America. They visited Peru, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and other countries. Through these travels he observed the indigenous lifestyle and poverty that appeared in his paintings.
Guayasamín dedicated his life to painting, sculpting, collecting; however, he was an ardent supporter of the communist Cuban Revolution in general and Fidel Castro in particular.