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  • Art on Screen

Dino Aranda: Epochal Artistry through a Nicaraguan-American Lens

Dino Aranda, a Nicaraguan-born American artist, presents an evolving journey of artistry that spans several decades, reflecting significant transitions in style, subject, and meaning. His early years in Nicaragua, marked by mentorship under Rodrigo Peñalba at Managua’s School of Fine Arts, laid a foundation of modernist sensibilities and a distinctive style in still-life painting. Post-education, Aranda, alongside fellow artists, founded the Praxis Gallery Group in 1963, a collective that challenged prevailing artistic norms of the time.

Aranda's relocation to Washington, D.C., in 1965, under a Ford Scholarship at the Corcoran School of Art, marked a period where his works poignantly addressed the Somoza regime's brutality in Nicaragua. His art from this era, characterized by desolate grays and earth tones, rugged impasto, and visceral linework, received critical acclaim for its powerful depiction of human trauma and political unrest.

In the 1980s, Aranda's art underwent a transformation, incorporating Mesoamerican symbols, particularly those of the Maya, reflecting his heritage. This period saw the emergence of works symbolizing rebirth and spiritual syncretism, most notably through the recurring theme of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god.

Aranda's move to Southern California in 1999 signified another pivotal change in his artistic direction. Here, his focus shifted from political engagement to creating lush, idyllic landscapes inspired by his surroundings in California, Arizona, and Florida. These works, marked by dreamy hazes, vibrant colors, and white-gray light, appear in stark contrast to his earlier, more politically charged pieces.

Presently based in Sedona, Arizona, with his wife, an immigration lawyer, Aranda continues to explore and expand his artistic repertoire. His work, now part of permanent collections in various D.C.-area museums, encapsulates a journey of growth, change, and profound artistic expression.

Aranda's career is a testament to his adaptability and evolution as an artist. It reflects his diverse experiences and the changes in his personal and political life. From confronting the tyranny of the Somoza dictatorship to capturing the serene beauty of the American landscape, his works offer a rich, multifaceted view of his artistic journey. This evolution from a focus on socio-political themes to embracing natural beauty and serenity in his later works signifies not just a change in artistic style but also a transformation in personal perspective and life experience.

This extensive career review, detailing Aranda's journey from a young artist in Nicaragua to an established figure in the American art scene, has been jointly written by Dino Aranda and Alice Vacek Aranda, illustrating a collaborative effort in portraying a life dedicated to artistic expression and evolution.


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