Portrait of visual artist, Adrián Arguedas.
March 18, 2024 0 Exhibition Belinda

Don't Miss visual artist Adrián Arguedas's exhibition, Valle Oscuro at the Museum of Costa Rican Art, San José

Adrián Arguedas is arguably Costa Rica's most important visual artist living and working in the country today and his latest solo exhibition (which opened November 2023) is not to be missed at San José's Museum of Costa Rican Art, a beautiful neoclassical-style building built in the late 1930s, in La Sabana Park.

Advert for Arguedas' exhibition Valle Oscuro, featuring the visual artist artist with a mask and masquerade figures in a red background.



The title of the exhibition Valle Oscuro (translated to "Dark Valley" in English) is the nickname of Arguedas' hometown of Barva de Heredia, north of San José, where masquerade is a great tradition.

Organised thematically, from Nicaraguan political unrest to the Devil to celebration, Valle Oscuro brings together around 55 new artworks, never before seen and produced within the last three years, and includes paintings, engravings, masks and archival material.

The show showcases Arguedas' fascination with masquerade. He is a visual artist, incorporating the image of the mask, explore archetypes and patterns of human behaviour, depicting a myriad of figures adorned with masks that make them appear devilish and sinister. Applying confident brushwork, Arguedas is a visual artist, a Costa Rican master of expressionism as he plays with a dark, ominous colour palette punctuated by lively colour. Even when Arguedas is not painting literal masks, he captures the way individuals project their identities, affirming that even “your face is a mask."

The storytelling of Pieter Brueghel and the social commentary of Edward Hopper are two notable influences that resonate in Arguedas' works. Similarly rich with narrative, his canvases depict figures expressing distinct emotions beneath the mysterious mask-wearing.  The dynamic energy inherent in each of his characters creates a collective oscillation, immersing you in the sensation of strolling through a museum surrounded by a crowd of people. It is a though you are moving through the space as a part of Arguedas' masquerade.

Print of masked children in a group, some sitting, some standing. By visual artist, Adrián Arguedas.

Los Presentes, 2021, Chromoxylography

"My work is very personal, but at the same time it is very human," says Arguedas. "There is whole history around our relationships with masks; you can see different moments in the history of how humans use them. I research history, coming back to different moments to relate to political or social ideas through the mask."

We highly recommend stopping by to see this exhibition, not least because it's an opportunity to understand what visual artist Arguedas' art means to the cultural fabric of Costa Rica. He has won several national awards, including four times the esteemed "Aquileo Echeverría" award, the highest accolade in Costa Rica's visual arts domain. We were lucky enough to be in San José for the opening night in early November and were shocked at how many people could fit inside the museum; over 700 people turned out to celebrate Arguedas and many danced in the courtyard well into the night, participating in Arguedas' very own masquerade.

Valle Oscuro is on show until April 2024. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 9am to 4pm. Free admission.


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.  

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. 

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


Oil painting of man holding a bunch of balloons of cartoon characters. By visual artist, Adrián Arguedas.

7am, 2021, Oil on fabric

About Visual Artist Adrián Arguedas

1968 Born in Barva de Heredia 

Lives and works in San José 


2001 MFA, Plastic Arts, University of Costa Rica  

2000 MFA, University of Miami, Florida, USA 

1994 Studied engraving at the École beaux d'art in Lorient, France 

1990 BA, School of Arts and Visual Communication, National University of Costa Rica 

1988 Diploma, Ceramics, National University of Costa Rica 

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