Art galleries in El Salvador are numerous, and many of them are owned by the artists themselves. Many artists, such as Fernando Llort, have travelled abroad to Europe and the US to study art and bring what they learned back home. They learn the techniques and the fundamentals and then combine it with their own culture. Similar to other Latin countries, the use of bright colors and dramatic shading influences Salvadoran artists as well. And as in the case of Llort, a simplistic approach to art with his public paintings on buildings of animals, houses, flowers, trees, etc. In fact, Llort’s hometown of La Palma has now become widely known as the folk art capital.
Artists will often put back into and contribute to the communities they are in and around. Miguel Angel Ramirez uses his art to help low-income children to express themselves through art. He’s most widely known for his paintings of children’s faces, but he also delves into other styles as well.
Outside of painting, Salvadoran artists also excel in other mediums as well, such as sculpture, murals, wood carving, jewelry making, photography, textile crafts, leatherwork, hammock making, etc. Arts and crafts are important to El Salvadoran society. It not only gives people the joy of creating something and expressing themselves and even contributing to their community, but it also contributes to their local economy by selling their goods, especially in the touristy areas. San Salvador is a popular place for artists to come to sell their work.
Literature during the colonial period reflected that of what was happening in Spain during that time. It was also closely tied to similar styles that were being utilized in Mexico, Guatemala, and other areas in Central America. Even though El Salvador was pretty far away from the cultural centers of the Hispanic world, it was far from being devoid of culture. Small pockets of educated people kept these arts alive.
The 20th century brought out a change in literary expressions and styles. As the political climate changed, the voices of the people changed too – and authors were reflecting this. Journalists became a coveted job for the politically-minded writers, like Alberto Masferrer. Arturo Ambrogi is another author from the early 20th century who is considered the most read author in El Salvador. El Salvador also went through an anti-modernism movement, followed by an anti-authoritarianism movement. Overall, I think much of the 20th century Salvadoran literature is influenced by the political and social events in and around the country.
Up next: music and dance