The Research

Curated by María José Monge, Visual Arts Curator for the Museums

November 12, 2015 – April 18, 2016

Margarita Quesada Schmidt (1915-2001) is a Costa Rican artist who focused her attention on landscapes, traditional scenes and home interiors in Paraíso de Cartago, her hometown.

Although her work encompassed drawings and oil paintings, watercolor was her preferred medium. Her deliberate transgression of conventions, seeking a systematic exploration of technique and representation, was the keynote of her work. As she once said, “If I don’t try hard, I feel it is not me.[1] And images of daily happenings, full of lyricism and a strong expressionist sense emerged from that “me”, characterized by intense colors, highly luminous contrasts, the use of fills, glazes, tears, scrapings, washes, layering, texts, and graphic elements.

The sum of these aspects confers upon her a special place within the Costa Rican watercolor painting tradition, and the history of the country in general.

Quesada Schmidt developed the main body of her artistic work during the last years of her life, after she retired as an elementary and high school teacher in the Escuela de San Rafael de Oreamuno de Cartago (1955-1962), the Colegio de Señoritas (1956-1957), and the Liceo Clodomiro Picado, in Turrialba (1955-1975), where she worked for twenty years.

Even though she did not begin to dedicate her time completely to her art until then, her links to the artistic sphere started long before. Initially, she received oil painting and watercolor classes from Rosario Bonilla Baldares. This was the prelude to her passage through the School of Fine Arts of the Universidad de Costa Rica between 1949 and 1952, during which she had the opportunity to receive guidance from artists such as Francisco Amighetti, Margarita Bertheau, Alexander Bierig, Lola Fernández, León Pacheco and Carlos Salazar Herrera.

Quesada Schmidt had her first exhibition when she was 64 years old, at the Instituto Tecnológico de Cartago. From that moment on, her work was featured in individual and joint exhibitions in the country and abroad, and served as an important reference for the generation of artists that emerged during the 1980s.

[1]      In: Margarita Quesada: una expresionista innata (“Margarita Quesada: an innate expressionist.”) La Nación. Vida moderna. Sección B. Saturday, March 7, 1981. P. 1B.