Nicolás Herrera

Nicolás Herrera

In many ways, he  can be defined a painter, and the content of his work will always be his main feature.

Nicolas Herrera comes from Ecuador and presents a visual fullness in painting providing a portrait of him as a person and as an artist. He is also a storyteller. This can explain the glare his paintings produce in the viewer. He is the heir to a rich pictorial aspect.

In his native Ecuador, Guayasamín and other great artists have left their originality, color and technical expertise in capital works of art. Herrera has the palette of the colors of the American land, but he knows little about it and expands the chromatic universe to the colours of fantasy that grow in the warm tropical nature, where time is not measured in minutes but through the decomposition of the light.

His work, born in the Middle of  the world found universal echo. The paintings of Nicholas Herrera, who traveled to several continents, communicate easily because they contain a rich universe of meanings. From the fairy tale, his creatures styled in volumes, cheer, complain, become environmentalists, disclose poetry and are free. As an artist Nicolás Herrera does never stop to siege the penetrating world of color. He creates  a world of paintings with artistic rituals, clearly defines, and so he achieves a special color communication.

Nicholas Herrera proposes an art that has roots but does not have  boundaries.


NICOLÁS HERRERA and his charms – Rodrigo Villacis Molina

From the studio of the painter Nicholas Herrera (Los Andes, Carchi, 1961) you can see  the placid waters of the  Lake Yahuarcocha, north of Ibarra, and inside it there are many pictures already completed or to be completed, sculptures and masks for exhibitions where he has been invited by the Central Bank.

– I am very happy with this work – he declares with unmasked  enthusiasm –  because I put there the whole of  myself … as always. And after Ibarra I’ll take the exhibition to the United States and Europe.

– You’ve already exhibited abroad …

– Individually in the United States, Switzerland, Spain and Canada, and I participated in numerous collective exhibitions in other countries.

– How was foreign criticism?

– I cannot complain, it has been generous; the same as it is here. I have some awards, Luis A. Martinez, in Ambato (1978) and Mariano Aguilera, Quito (1990).

– How did you start?

– I studied at the National Polytechnic of Quito, and I had to share with a painter, Fernando Lopez, Engraving Workshop of the House of Culture. I can say that I started there, watching him working

– Any story before that?

– Well, I had knowledge of universal painting through books of the great masters; but I knew nothing of the Ecuadorian painting until the age of 18 when I was  in Quito at the Art Museum of the House of Culture. I walked carefully, for hours in every room, until they closed, and when I went out I  was convinced that I was already  a painter! I only needed to get ready to play my role.

– Paper. Pencils, canvases, paintings, books?

– Yes, and get ready. I did it alone, and I started to paint with passion. From that moment I have really lived, I enjoyed art. Of course I’m still learning …

– So, what about the  Polytechnic? Did you think to become an engineer?

– I came to the Polytechnic because I liked mathematics, having gone through the Seminary San Diego de Ibarra …

– Did you think to become a priest?

– No, but I have always been interested in theological things, the approach to God. Since my childhood, since when I was in my school in Los Andes, Pedro Fermin Cevallos.

– Until fifth, sixth grade in the little school of Bolivar, another village.

– How was your childhood?

– Happy. I am the second child of a family of nine. My father was a farmer and had other farm activities. I was so close to a  prodigious nature and geography.

– The school?

– I studied three years at the seminary before going to the College Teodoro Gomez de la Torre. This was good because among many fellows I met guys with whom I identified, especially people who liked to read, trying to make literature.

– Do you like literature?

– Very much, I’m a good reader, especially of poetry. For me poetry is the word turned into magic. I think I inherited it  from my mother, who was a teacher and poet. She died young; family retains a book of hers and many notes. I remember I liked to listen to her when speaking of the Cid, in the Iliad, the myth of Icarus and many other issues of world literature. Moreover, at that time  in my town and we had no television or radio receiver. At night we sat by the elders to listen to ancient legends. The villages like mine are full of fantastic stories, and the way the old tell these stories was as if they were facts. So, much of my work is explained. So I like to illustrate stories and now I’m doing with the Ecuadorian traditions, among which are some parallels to the universal myths.

– One might think that these experiences lead you towards humanities …

– In fact, I thought I would be a writer or perhaps an architect. When I was thinking of being a painter, it seemed unattainable.

– Coming back to your studies, what happened after the Technical Seminar?

– The Polytechnic of Quito and Ibarra Catholic University, where I did some years of Management and as an observer or, if you prefer, out of curiosity, the Faculty of Arts at the Central University.

– But what happened with your interest in Religion?

– I found the answer in art. When I work I feel He is near. I’m not Catholic or belong to any church, but I am deeply religious. I believe that God is everywhere and in all beings. I think my creativity comes from my beliefs;  my angels and my biblical characters come from there.

– And your other characters?

– They come from my imagination; in any case, they come from the seeds planted in my mind by the fables of the elderly, and my own storytelling ability. Painting for me is like closing your eyes and let the ideas flow freely, they become forms that I understand, grasp  and transfer into canvas.

– Do you remember the first picture you painted?

– Yes, it was a bird. I had a dream that night: I dreamed that painting was to become my destiny…

– What about your first exhibition?

– With Fernando Lopez, I think that was in 79, in a small gallery which opened in Quito. Of course, I had already participated in some group exhibitions. But I became known  here, say, in the Ecuadorian plastic, thanks to my participation as one of the twenty selected artists to represent the country in the First Biennial of Cuenca. There I began to receive invitations, I left the Polytechnic, I left the house and decided to live solely as an artist.

– A decision that you never regretted …

– The very fact of doing what one likes, justifies everything, even the bad times that you can have,  but to me, to say the truth, everything has gone well. The mere act of painting makes me lucky. And I never get tired; I pass from drawing to painting, from painting to sculptures and masks, I design, illustrate …

– About national painters, who do you particularly admire?

– Guayasamin, for his strength and because he did not decline until his death.

– Universal masters?

– Rembrandt for the light in his paintings,  Picasso for his terrific ability to create without fear of anything.

– A joy?

– When I paint.

– Shame?

– When I sell my pictures and they leave me.

– A project?

– If things turn out well, a cultural centre. I’m building here near my workshop, a room of 700 square meters, which will serve for exhibitions and other cultural events. Hopefully this project is crystallized, according to my plans, next year. I have a daughter who also paints and this project has a lot to do with it.

– You’ve led her to?

– No way, because for me freedom is the most important thing, and to be free, to my view, is doing what one likes with love, honesty, passion and absolute dedication.

Selected Images