Painting has always been a form of rich cultural manifestation of the Nicaraguan people and their art has locally and internationally been exhibited.
Armando Morales, originally from Granada, is an internationally prominent Nicaraguan painter. He received his first international award in Guatemala in 1956 with the painting “Spook tree” which later was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Even though most of his paintings have been created in New York, he found inspiration on the wild tropical forests. His paintings are based on figures, placed on semi-abstract and meta-physical ambience and influenced by Giorgio de Chirico, a surrealistic painter.
Rodrigo Peñalba is considered the father of modern art in Nicaragua. As a muralist, some of his most important works are displayed on Diriamba church, Carazo; another beautiful mural is found at Santo Domingo church in Managua where he blends the influence of the neo-classical art with the faith and suffering of the Nicaraguan people.
Other celebrated painters are Roger Perez de la Rocha and Leoncio Saenz. De la Rocha studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Managua then he continued his art studies in Madrid, Spain. He painted an entire collection of Nicaragua’s national hero Augusto Cesar Sandino, creating a whole Sandinista iconography. Leoncio Saenz, from Matagalpa, graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts in Managua and later in his life became the Director of the Academy of Fine Arts of the Autonomous National University of Leon. Through his paintings he could rescue the symbols of the pre-Columbian culture as well as the colonial; he created outstanding murals reflecting the blending of the American culture and the folkloric expressions of the Nicaraguan people. He received the prestigious cultural award “Ruben Dario” in 1988.
It is difficult to mention the extensive list of all famous and extraordinary contemporary painters from Nicaragua : Hugo Palma, Efren Medina, Alfonso Ximenez, Juan Rivas, David Salvador are just some of them, creating masterworks that can be appreciated in many galleries in Managua, Leon or Granada.
Art also developed in remote rural areas, encouraged mainly by urban painters. A realistic example is Solentiname, an archipelago formed by small islands in the south east of Lake Nicaragua where a painting of the native community was chiefly supported by the Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal in the 60’. Their art reflects their peaceful way of living, surroundings and love for nature.
The native art became also renowned through the influence of Asilia Guillen who was born in Granada and a pioneer of this art. She used her embroidering skills as a means to begin painting under the encouragement of Rodrigo Peñalba. As a precursor of this tendency she exhibited her art at the Pan-American Union of Washington, Sao Pablo, North Carolina, Mexico city and European countries.