Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tragedy Takes the Man Who Made the Green Men

Olave with some of his figures in his workshop in 2011.
Olave's Banana Republic.
Painter and sculptor Jorge Olave, probably the La Candelaria neighborhood's best known artist, who was probably best known for the green figures on balconies and rooftops around the neighborhood, was found dead in his workshop this weekend, apparently the victim of a homicide.

Olave created much more than the green figures which made him locally famous - and generated more than a few bizarre theories about their origin and meaning. (They were created in the mid-'90s. modeled after local residents.) Some of his figures were created from plastic resins, others from recycled materials. He also painted impressionistic scenes of La Candelaria, as well as works which suggest Andy Warhol. His creations also included critical social commentary.

Along with his children, Olave also created a 'Graffiti Art Shop' below his workshop on Carrera 3, where they sold often satirical, sometimes Banksy-style prints.
An image from a 2011 exhibit by Olave
about neglect in La Candelaria.

Olave sold works internationally and did exhibitions in the United States and Europe. He was also a great promoter of neighborhood culture and always welcoming to strangers interested in visiting his workshop - even when they were not likely to buy anything.

When I learned of the murder, I sent a text message to Olave's daughter Laura lamenting her father's death and calling it "a great loss for La Candelaria."

"It's a great loss for the world," she wrote back.

Police are investigating Olave's killing, according to press reports.

An Olave figure by the La Candelaria neighborhood City Hall.
Olave in 2011 in his workshop's stairwell.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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