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Yllanes - Khenas Khenas-1937_oil on canvas_127x208.8cm.JPG

Alejandro Mario Yllanes (1913-c.1960)

The Monumental Paintings

15 September - 18 December 2023

Monday to Friday 9:30am to 5:30pm, or by appointment

The Monumental Paintings 

Ben Elwes Fine Art, this autumn, will be exhibiting a group of extraordinary monumental paintings not seen for the last 30 years by the Aymara Bolivian artist Alejandro Mario Yllanes (1913-c.1960). Yllanes was a precocious, self-taught artist whose indigenous narrative and astonishing portrayals of the Aymara people are profound and compelling. 


Born in 1913 in La Paz, Bolivia, Yllanes articulated the political turmoil in his country with boldness and vibrancy. Perceived as a provocative agitator, in 1936 the government sentenced him to a year of internal exile in the Amazon jungle, during which Yllanes absorbed the vivid tropical colours of his surroundings which he later brought to his paintings. The works featured in the present exhibition were first shown during the artist’s travels to Ecuador, Peru and Mexico. The renowned muralist, Diego Rivera (1886-1957), advocated for Yllanes and wrote an introduction for his 1946 exhibition in Mexico City. Yllanes later travelled to New York where he was awarded, but never collected, a Guggenheim Foundation Grant before mysteriously disappearing on his return to Bolivia in about 1960, possibly the victim of a political assassination.  


Ben Elwes Fine Art will offer for sale the surviving seven monumental paintings by Alejandro Mario Yllanes, exhibiting them in the United Kingdom for the first time. This follows the gallery’s initial showing of the drawings and wood engravings during London Art Week this summer. 


The exhibition is accompanied by an online catalogue with an essay on Bolivian Indigenism by Dr Michele Greet, Professor of modern Latin American art history at George Mason University and author of Beyond National Identity: Pictorial Indigenism as a Modernist Strategy in Andean Art, 1920-1960 (Penn State University Press: 2009).


18 September – 15 December 2023

Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5:30pm, or by appointment

Ben Elwes Fine Art, 45 Maddox Street, London, W1S 2PE | |+44 (0)20 7629 6645  

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