Uruguay at the Ian Tan GalleryThursday, March 09, 2006
Uruguay is one of the great forgotten countries of the world. My guess is that more people know of the existence of Paraguay than of Uruguay. Its official name is La República Oriental del Uruguay. We Argentines call them orientales. They are Oriental because their country is on the banda oriental or eastern side of the Uruguay River. In 1942 Domingo Tortorelli, a vegetable shop owner, ran for president (and vice president, senator, and representative!) and promised that if he were elected:
1. He was going to build a highway from Montevideo to the port of Colonia that was going to be downhill both ways.
2. Each neighbourhood corner would have tap of free milk (for children) and one of wine for adults.
3. A special roof was going to soar over Montevideo to protect its inhabitants from rain.
But it is in Uruguay, like in my native Argentina where one can go to the pampa and look at the horizon in a 360 degree sweep without the horizon being broken except for a clump of trees that indicate some sort of dwelling. As a little boy I would take my slingshot to the campo in the hopes of downing a rhea (the South American relative of the ostrich). I would get chunks of concrete from the estancia (ranch) because once I was on the pampa there would not be a pebble or a stone to be found. When I saw this painting (done only with a palette) by Uruguayan artist Erika Toliusis I felt a sudden rush of nostalgia for my country and for Uruguay. There is a show of her work at the Ian Tan Gallery beginning on March 11. Above is Erika Toliusis's Surrounded 2005
Ian Tan Gallery