Colombian artist Omar Rayo passed away on June 7 at the age of 82. A member of the “Op art” movement, Rayo’s work was characterized by its bold, geometric design and minimal use of color.
Rayo was born in Roldanillo, Colombia in 1928. He began working as an artist in the late 1940′s as an illustrator for magazines and newspapers in Bogotá. Like many Colombian artists, he spent much of his professional life outside the country, living for many years in Mexico and New York. His museum, the Museo Rayo, was completed in his hometown of Roldanillo in 1981. The museum houses a large number of Rayo’s works, in addition to a permanent collection more than 500 works by other modern and contemporary Latin American artists. Rayo was an outspoken advocate for the arts community in Colombia, and spent much of the later part of his life emphasizing the importance of supporting Colombian artists.
In the video below you can see a number of Rayo’s more recent paintings, from an exhibition held last year (the artworks themselves were created in 2008).
Unfortunately, I was not very familiar with Rayo until my husband told me that he had died (although I saw some of his works when I visited the Museo Bolivariano, which is part of the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino in Santa Marta, Colombia). My husband had grown up admiring Rayo’s work, and was sad to hear of his death.
I am constantly impressed with the artistic talent that comes out of Colombia. Colombians are hugely proud of the talented artists that have been successful on the international stage (Botero immediately comes to mind), but it is very difficult for young artists in that country. Hopefully Rayo’s dreams of additional support for Colombian artists will be realized in the near future.
Omar Rayo’s paintings are held in a wide variety of museums and public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, the Museo de Ponce in Puerto Rico, and Colombia’s Museo Nacional in Bogotá.
For more information, please visit the Museo Rayo (Rayo Museum).
Image used according to fair use guidelines.