Adrián Arguedas

Costa Rica, b.1968

Lives and works in Heredia, Costa Rica

Adrián Arguedas is a practitioner of traditional Costa Rican artistic methods encompassing woodcut, engraving, watercolour, and oil painting, as well as installation and sculpture. Arguedas crafts theatrical realms that manifest his ideas on religion, politics, ethics, and his personal interpretation of Costa Rican existence. Growing up in Barva de Heredia, a town recognised for its celebration of popular mask parades, Arguedas has an affinity for appropriating commonplace imagery and recontextualising it in unexpected scenarios, echoing Surrealist tendencies. For example, in his landscape paintings, Arguedas explores the intricate interplay between humanity and the environment, depicting enormous giraffe or Hello Kitty balloons floating above the Costa Rica fields.

Arguedas’ figurative work embraces the spirit of masquerade as he delves into the concept of masks and the various guises people adopt. Always referencing popular culture, his work presents masks as archetypes, depicting patterns of behaviour, offering a lens through which to view our multifaceted human experience. Even when Arguedas is not painting literal masks, he captures the way individuals project their identities, affirming that even “your face is a mask”.

Concerned with the balance of contrasts, Arguedas explores dichotomies such as life vs death, tall vs small, and beauty vs ugliness. Additionally, the juxtaposition between the playful and the violent is a central theme, driven by an undercurrent of parody that imparts a critical dimension to his canvases, and reveals a marked European influence from artists such as Pieter Brueghel, Hieronymus Bosch and Edward Hopper.

Arguedas holds a Bachelor of Art degree from the School of Arts and Visual Communication of the National University of Costa Rica. Additionally, he pursued engraving studies at the École Beaux d’Art in Lorient, France, and attained a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Miami, Florida, USA. Arguedas has been awarded several honours, including the esteemed “Aquileo Echeverría” award, the highest accolade in Costa Rica’s visual arts domain, with which he has been awarded on four occasions.

Adrian Arguedas in his studio surrounded by masquerade paintings and masked puppets

Adrián Arguedas in his studio, 2023 (Photography by Julio Sequeira)

"I seek to discuss the human condition and its relationship with the environment from an individual and/or community level." Adrián Arguedas, 2023