September 2012

Esther Leyton de Villena - An Artistic Injection of Strength, Hope, and Peace

For some, art is an acquired skill learned through years of practice, while for others, art is a talent that comes naturally. Esther Leytón De Villena, a Bolivian artist born in Chuquisaca, explains that art has revolved around most of her life, beginning in her childhood. As she eagerly presented her artwork to me, she opened my eyes to a new way of approaching art.

By: Carlos Tinoco
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Miami, Florida – United States

Leyton Picture
Photo: Carlos Tinoco

But how and when did her passion for art grow? During high school she developed a close friendship with Claudia Alcalá, daughter of prominent artist Ricardo Perez Alcalá. It was at this moment that Esther would have her first “linea de seguimiento” in the world of art. In the following years, she made crucial acquaintances with artists such as her art professor Benedicto Aiza and artist Mario Conde, which helped her to define a stylistic approach.

What she does and how

realism, hyperrealism, and nature, became the central focuses of her artwork early on. Due to physical limitations, however, Esther has only been able to work on paintings rather than sculptures or other physically demanding forms of art. Regardless, there is still a variety of styles to be seen in her paintings. Two techniques, oil and acrylic, are commonly used in her work.

When asked where she draws inspiration, she responded that it was simply a matter of not undermining the details we see on a daily basis.For example, one of her first moments of inspiration was during an ordinary afternoon on the street. She noticed a few dry leaves on the concrete and dark colored cement; thus, she felt that she had to take pictures right away. She said that there is beauty everywhere and it is just a matter of choosing to see it. Demonstrating nature in her art is important because she feels that nature is a subject that emits peace rather than violence. Without hesitation, Mrs. Leytón commented on how so many people enjoy viewing violence on television and the news— peace is not found as often as violence. For that reason, one of the main purposes in her art is to present a sense of peace in contrast to violence shown in the media. In fact, one critic explained that viewing her artwork was like “refreshing one’s soul and spirit.”

Esther Leyton de Villena
Photo: Carlos Tinoco

Her success

Much of Mrs. Leytón´s success as an artist came during the past seven years when she began to create art at a professional level. This can be seen in the more recent exhibitions she participated in. Her latest exhibition, in 2011, was titled EL Salon de Pedro Domingo Murillo. In this exhibition, her painting, “De la Rosa Solo Queda el Nombre”, was nominated as a top pick among the other participating artists. This painting is considered hyperrealism because it depicts two eyes, one young and the other old, watching a dying rose reach its end. The significance of this is that outer beauty doesn’t last forever; thus, only the memory of a name remains.

Another exhibition in which she participated in was titled Verde and financed by the Miyuki Company in 2010. It was called Verde because it dealt with environmental issues and climate change in Bolivia. In this exhibition,

“When asked where she draws inspiration, she responded that it was simply a matter of not undermining the details we see on a daily basis.”

two of her artworks were nominated for top picks. These two works are titled “Nostalgia” and “Remembranzas”, also portraying hyperrealism. In “Nostalgia”, the eye of God is seen in the clouds as He sheds a raindrop containing elements of nature. Mankind tends to destroy nature as technology is enhanced and construction is augmented; thus, God sheds a tear containing the image of how the planet once was.

Interview with Esther Leyton
Photo: Carlos Tinoco

Also, Salon ANBA (Academia National de Bellas Artes) Hernando Siles in 2010 was another exhibition she took part in. “Inti Phaxsi” was the painting nominated for top pick in that event. Over the course of these three exhibitions, four of her artworks have been selected as an option for the grand prize. Although her works haven’t yet been chosen for a main award, she feels that the nominations alone are great achievements in her career.

Her message

Mrs. Leytón has two main opinions in regards to art and artists in the world, especially Bolivia. First of all, she states that many people have the wrong concept of artists. She feels that the world usually views artists as people who pursue art as a hobby, rather than as a professional career. She added that many artists find themselves in financial crisis because there aren’t laws in Bolivia that benefit them.

Flower - Esther Leyton
Photo: Carlos Tinoco

Secondly, she touched upon the issue of discrimination towards the handicapped Bolivia. The capabilities of handicapped people are often viewed as irrelevant simply because of their condition. However, Mrs. Leytón believes that art is a mechanism through which these individuals can express themselves and feel valued in society. This discrimination has inspired and fueled her dream of one day creating an institution dedicated to aiding handicap citizens. The familiar saying, “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” is one which drives Mrs. Leytón to pursue this aspiration. She keenly explained that this institution is a goal she hopes to possibly accomplish in the near future.

“Demonstrating nature in her art is important because she feels that nature is a subject that emits peace rather than violence.”

However, she added that this would require financial aid, contacts, and most importantly, volition. Mrs. Leytón will gladly share her ideas and paintings with those who ask. She pursues art with the intention of bringing peace into people´s minds. To do this, she links nature with realism and hyperrealism in order to summon a state of tranquility. With realism, she demonstrates the serenity that can be found in this world and with hyperrealism, she intertwines beauty of reality with beauty of fantasy. Although art is often not a high paying profession, Mrs. Leytón follows her passion for a greater purpose.

Esther Leyon De Villena can be contacted by this email:

Ají for the body and
spicy for the soul
The aji (uchú in Quechua) is a spice that for the indigenous societies had a ritual characteristic due to its capacity to stimulate the body functions by the intenseness – even producing transpiration-. For this characteristic the aji was associated by the Colonial Church and the Hispanic culinary system to the fire, heat, burning, and excitement – hence to sensuality, lust, temptation. In other words a condiment classified as “hot” that exalted all the senses of the body, leading human beings to the flesh temptation and thus to the burning fire of hell and evil. (saxra in aymara; supay in quechua), alienating them from profound experiences for the soul and of God.
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