Jonas Rimša (Lithuanian) or Jonas Rimsa (June 12, 1903 – March 13, 1978) is one of the most vivid artists of the Lithuanian diaspora to have promoted Lithuania abroad. He has been honored in the cultural sphere in Bolivia, being presented with the highest distinction given to civilians, the Condor de Los Andes award. He was also made Honorary Citizen of Bolivia.
The Bolivian Government acquired about 300 paintings from the artist and distributed them among the most significant national offices. The epic and impressive painting by Rimša. “The Founding of La Paz” (1948), is on display in the Bolivian capital’s Municipal Hall. Several of his works also hang in the Central Bank in La Paz, as well as in the homes of private buyers.
Always connected with Lithuania
Under tumultuous circumstances, he found himself in distant lands, yet he never forgot his homeland of Lithuania and dreamed of returning there one day. In 1938 Rimša sent 3 of his paintings to the 4th Autumn Art Exhibition in Kaunas. He also donated the finest paintings still in his studio to the then director of the Lithuanian Art Museum, Pranas Gudynas, who was visiting him at the time.
Entertaining his interest in the ancient Inca civilization, he spent much time traveling through Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, where, along the slopes of the Andes, at an altitude of between 500 and 2,500 meters the Yungas highlands stretch almost all the way to the Bolivian capital of La Paz. At the core of Inca culture, the people of Cuzco also left a great impression on the artist, with their worn yet determined faces and colorful, ornamental clothing.
The artist also had the opportunity to experience first hand the deep, cultural traditions and language of the ancient people of the Aymara tribe of South American Indians, who lived in the territory of Bolivia and Peru around lake Titicaca. The painter, who had arrived from the low laying shores of the northern Baltic Sea was captivated and inspired by the exotic nature of the Incan Empire – a landscape of astoundingly high mountains rising from lush, jungle-filled valleys, forests and waterfalls, clouded in mist, as well as its history.
The fact that the artist did not turn to abstractism, but learnt to love and respect the Indians, to acknowledge their ancient culture, the history of their land and its natural landscapes, has determined that Bolivians to this day treasure his creative legacy, and have named the artist “ the missionary of art”. Alongside Guzman de Rojas, Rimsa is considered among the most influential Bolivian painters, and one of the best of all of Ibero-America.
Jonas Rimas died aged 74 in Santa Monica.