Fernando de Szyszlo was a key figure in advancing abstract art in Latin America in the mid-fifties. Born in Lima in 1925, Szyszlo studied at the School of Plastic Arts of the Catholic University of Lima. At the age of 24 he traveled to Europe where he studied the works of the masters, particularly Rembrandt, Titian and Tintoretto, and absorbed the varied influences of cubism, surrealism, informalism and abstraction. While in Paris he met Octavio Paz and Andre Breton and frequented the group of writers and intellectuals that met regularly at the Cafe Flore engaging in vigorous discussions on how they could participate in the international modern movement while preserving their Latin American cultural identity. Upon his return to Peru, Szyszlo became a major force for artistic renewal in his country breaking new ground by expressing a Peruvian subject matter in a non-representational style.
Lyricism of color enriched by rich textural effects and a masterly handling of light and shadow are hallmarks of Szyszlo's painting. Highly identified with the linking of ancient cultures to a modernist artistic language, Szyszlo's art reflects a broad culture that draws on many sources from philosophy and science to literature. His evocative allusions to rituals, myths, and the geography of sea and desert landscapes are often associated with pre-Columbian sacred sites. Since his first solo exhibit in Lima in 1947, Szyszlo has had over 100 individual exhibitions in museums and galleries in Latin America, Europe and the United States and has participated in the prestigious international biennials of Sao Paulo and Venice. His work is represented in important public and private collections throughout the world