Sculptor, painter, and print maker Francisco Zuñiga was born in Costa Rica. He studied drawing, stone sculpture, and engraving at the School of Fine Arts in San Jose. Later, in 1936, he studied stone carving at La Esmeralda in Mexico City. He was appointed to the faculty of La Esmeralda where he remained until his retirement in 1970.
Zuñiga's art reflects a love and respect for Central American people and traditions. In 1972, he created his first lithograph. As a complement to his emotionally powerful sculpture, Zuñiga's paintings are intended to articulate the sensitivity and sensuality of the human figure.
He has been the recipient of numerous international prizes and awards. His work is exhibited throughout the world. His work can be found in the permanent collections of twenty-nine museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum, the Mexican Museum in San Francisco, and the Phoenix Art Museum.
Seated Woman with Shawl is a prime example of Zuñiga's signature sculptures, massive female figures sculpted in either onyx or marble or cast in bronze, which emphasize an ongoing exploration of figurative representation in Western Art. There has often been a reason for categorizing Zuñiga's work as an example of regional representation, most notably for his seeming archetypes of indigenous women. Yet in focusing on the posture, gesture, and composition his works, Zuñiga utilized a juxtaposition of classical sculptural language with indigenous models. One might feel tempted to focus solely on the appearance of the model, but the viewer should not overlook the allusion to the classical Western tradition.
Such earth mothers embody a mythological essence of the feminine. These Earth goddesses created through line, mass, and volume transcend the reductive barriers of nationalistic representation, moving toward a universal interpretation of woman. Throughout his life Zuñiga stated, restated, and recapitulated this representational figurative narrative of the feminine, never deviating from it, intuitively understanding and grappling with the powerful meaning of this archetype for humanity.
Private Collection, Beverly Hills, CA
Ariel Zuniga, Francisco Zuniga, Catalogo Razonado/Catalogue Raisonne, vol. I: 1923-1993, Albedrio, in association with Fundacion Zuniga Laborde, A.C., 1999, no. 721, illus. b/w, p. 419