Carlos Paez Vilaro – My Favorite Uruguayan Artist
January 25, 2016
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Carlos Paez Vilaro, an artist from Uruguay, South America - shows off an original painting of Casa Pueblo.

Many of you are probably already familiar with Carlos Paez Vilaro – but I’m sure many of you are not as well. I have a bit of a personal experience with him, well kind of. I didn’t meet him, but I do have one of his original paintings, and he personalized it to my wife and I. So, I’ll attempt to share a little about him and will also explain how I ended up with one of his original paintings.


Who Is Carlos Paez Vilaro?

I learned of Carlos Paez Vilaro on my first trip to Uruguay in 2007. Someone recommended that while visiting Punta del Este, we should stop at Punta Ballena to visit Casapueblo. So we went, not really knowing what to expect.


Casapueblo is the home, studio, museum/gallery and resort of Carlos Paez Vilaro. Carlos was born in Montevideo in 1923 and purchased the property where Casapueblo is today in 1958. Over the years, Carlos began building Casapueblo and added to it over the years until it eventually became the structure it is today. The story goes that many famous people like Pele, Shakira and Don Francisco would come to visit Vilaro and when they did, he would add on to Casapueblo giving them their own space at the compound and this is how it grew to the size it is today. It is aesthetically designed to resemble “mud nests” or homes that the regions native Hornero birds build. Vilaro also built a chapel in Buenos Aires and a smaller version of Casapueblo in Tigre, Argentina.


Carlos is also well known for his murals in countries such as the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Chad and more. Friendships with famous people like Pablo Picasso and the story of his son, who was one of the survivors from the plane crash in the Andes that later became well known in the movie “Alive” are also things he is well known for.


I walked away from Casapueblo learning all of this about him and really impressed by someone who had such a colorful life. Someone so inspirational that seemed to know no boundaries. It was like he was capable of accomplishing anything and everything he ever wanted with ease and grace. It’s easy to think that, but we only ever see the finish line. I did not know him, I never met him and after all, he lived 90 years. I’m sure he must have faced opposition and hardships but I will always look to him as an example of someone that really lived his life and inspired thousands across the world. In Uruguay, he considered part of the culture and the fabric of the country. Everybody in Uruguay knows who he is and feels pride and happiness when thinking about Carlos.


That day that Francesca and I left Casapueblo, we also left with a reprint from his series of suns… we picked the Sagitarius sun because we are both Sagitarius.The reprint probably cost us $40-$50. I remember thinking it would be cool to purchase an original painting but didn’t give it two thoughts because I could not afford one and my appreciation for art was not what it is today.


The Story Behind My Original Carlos Paez Vilaro Painting

Sometime over the last few years, it dawned on me that I should attempt to purchase one of his original paintings. It would be such an honor to have one. So, in October of 2013, a Uruguayan friend of mine, Silvana mentioned that she would be going to Uruguay at the end of the year. We started talking about how I would love to return one day and purchase an original painting by Carlos Paez Vilaro and Silvana suggested that she could actually go to Casapueblo for me and purchase a painting on my behalf. Really? That would be amazing! So we started talking logistics and it all fell into place.


Silvana suggested that she would send me pictures of the paintings that fit into my price range through WhatsApp. We both happened to use the same bank, so I could simply transfer money to her and she could purchase the painting with her checkcard within minutes.


So, at 10:28am on December 2nd, 2013, my phone started to get flooded with images of available paintings that my wife and I could choose from. Silvana was at the gallery and working with the employees at Casapueblo to provide me with options of paintings that were in the style we liked and also fit our price range.


Here is where it gets interesting, the gallery offered to get the painting personalized by Carlos Paez Vilaro himself – of course I want that! We had a choice of personalizing the front or the back, so we went with the back. Silvana was invited into Carlos Paez Vilaros’ personal studio where he paints and she actually had the opportunity to meet him!


I was in shock as all these pictures came in from Silvana standing with Carlos Paez Vilaro. Pictures of Paez Vilaro holding an original painting that I had just purchased and I hadn’t even stepped foot in the country to purchase it. In a strange way, it felt like he had painted it specifically for me.


A week later, Silvana and I met up for me to pick up the painting and sadly, I have not hung it yet. I need to get a custom frame made and also need to be sure it is framed properly, so I have been looking for a frame shop that I feel comfortable enough to do the framing of such a fantastic piece.


Less than three months after we purchased our painting, Carlos Paez Vilaro passed away on February 24th, 2014. If I were to purchase the same painting today, I am sure the price would be much higher and I am not certain that the government would even allow it to leave the country. I feel so fortunate to have such a great piece of Uruguay’s culture and history in our home and will always cherish our painting.


Silvana, thank you for making this happen and Carlos, thank you for living a life with no limits. Your art that now hangs on my wall will serve as inspiration and motivation for a life well lived. It will serve as a reminder and inspiration to reach for more. Thank you.

About author

Lain Livingston

Lain Livingston

Lain is passionate about informing aspiring expats about the pros and the cons of life abroad while exposing as many Americans as possible to the idea of experiencing countries and cultures beyond the surface. Married to a half Ecuadorian – half Italian, with family in Ecuador, Italy, England, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, Lain’s experiences abroad tend to be immersive.

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