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Memories For a Poet Painter

By Juan Carlos Saldaña,
with the collaboration of Sarah Anthonson

Ever since he was a child, Fernando Matamoros, the youngest of five brothers, stood out from the rest. While his brothers worked in farming, he started sketching his first drawings. At sixteen, he left home with the intention of studying and visiting other countries; his brothers remember him mentioning Cuba and Panama but who knows where else life took him! He always came home, surprising them with gifts and painting new works of art that would be left on walls and tiles, before leaving once again.

Most of his life was spent in San José, where he studied at Casa del Artista; during a visit to his hometown he created a mural that portrays Christ, with a blue and a red ray stemming from his heart, posing amidst tropical flowers for Las Delicias Church. This work is considered to be the town’s most valuable possession. The thing is, attempting to reconstruct a person that is gone, he who was an artist among humble people and countrymen, requires going into deep mysteries: a damp and stained picture of him remains, since it was him who gave memories away with his camera so that they would not be lost in the passing of time.

Fernando had a purpose that had to be postponed several times due to a lack of financial resources: he wished to establish an art school for his community and the area’s visitors; for him painting religious murals throughout the country, as well as mosaics and different projects in public and private places was not enough. It might have been a result of his generous nature, a characteristic that was always present and which his brother witnessed during the last week of his life, on three separate occasions, with the town’s children (by giving them all the change he had). This is exactly the type of thing that should be told about a man that devoted his life to art, his life’s work.

The day finally arrived and Don Fernando, at age 60, carried out his daily activities, visited his brothers, shaved and cleaned himself, perhaps sensing that it was time to leave the body that had accompanied him through so many journeys and so he left, just like the sun during a beautiful sunset...without pause or rush, due to a heart attack. Strokes of light and beautiful words captured in poetry bring him out of the shadow and place him, who knows for how long or who will wish to see him, alive and passionate, just as he was. Be at peace Fernando Matamoros, in peace you lived and in peace you go.



Extract From a Poem Dedicated to
Claudio, his Brother

Al verte
pienso que escondes
la huella de mis raíces.
Ya se te hace tarde
para reunir todas las energías que
has perdido en el tiempo
pero tienes la fortaleza de la juventud
y la experiencia del sabio escondido
cuya luz se funde con el tiempo.




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