Joaquin R. Del Paso’s socially engaged art

Posted on August - 10 - 2016

There are artists whose art aims not only to please the senses but also to set forth a philosophical or sociological critique of society’s structures of power, cultural displacements and monetary hegemony.

Joaquín R. Del Paso was initially drawn to study architecture; an interest that still lingered in his compositions (especially in his series “Melting”). He later decided to pursue ceramics and graduate with a Bachelors degree in Art from the University of Costa Rica. He then earned a scholarship to go and study at the prestigious Pratt Institute in New York where he attained a Masters Degree in Industrial Design. When he returned to Costa Rica, R. Del Paso dedicated his time and resources to his artist’s career, which took off quiete rapidly.


As a talented creator, he has not only specialized in one media but has endeavored in various techniques such as painting, sculpture, installations, video art and 3D design. His proliferous and ingenious productions are the result of his very inquisitive mind and informed opinions. Through his art he has become an openly critical commentator. One of the underlying idea that lingers in his work is the concept of “Hypermodernity” taken from the French sociologist Gilles Lipovetsky which follows the fall of Lyotard’s Great Narratives and the beginning of post-modern times, as a euphoric time, where hedonistic consumption and perpetual desire are encouraged by multinational industries and centers of hegemonic power. R. Del Paso also has strained the relationship between “North” and “South”, what it means to be a peripheral state and how northern influences’ dominate and shape the culture of “underdeveloped” nations. Such concepts can be seen in several of his series such as Herramientas para construir el tercer mundo (1998), Americana, Hotel América, The pure life (2007). In his more recent series such as Home Delivery where he relates drug traffic with an every-day object of consumption such as a pizza box, thus comparing the mobility and repercussions of the currents feuds and exchanges of illicit economic exchanges.


“De Madera”

In 2014, MADC presented a solo exhibition of his extense work, filling its big galleries with floral installations Jardín Postraumático (1998), video-art, sculptures, paintings and all that comprises R. Del Pasos universe of stimulating imageries.

Before that, R. Del Paso had had solo exhibitions in Despacio Gallery (2013), Jacob Karpio Gallery (2003, 1991), the Spanish Cultural Center in Costa Rica (2007) among others. He has also participated in several Biennials around the works, such as the Havana Biennial (1994, 1997), Sao Paulo Biennial (1998), Venice Biennial (2003) and the Mercosul Biennial (2014). His work has been exhibited internationally in Denmark, Spain, France, Holland, Germany, Taiwan and U.S.A.

Besides being a highly regarded artist in the Costa Rican art scene, R. Del Paso is also a veneered academic and intellectual, and his contributions are numerous in several cultural spheres.
By: Gabriela Martinez


“Home Delivery”