A  man discovers himself on a  journey.  He knows  not where he goes.  He knows only where he comes from. He meets strangers in unknown places, and leaves a part of his soul at every stop. Living day by day with the keenest sense of experience, solacing his solitude, he becomes ever more indomitable.

“I visited London at the age of 30, intending  to stay for two weeks, but  I’ve lived there ever since.” Fernando Montes told me, laughing.

Unlike  Spain, where he  studied, London is located  firmly within  the Anglo-Saxon Sphere  of  culture. Seeking his identity, he moved from  his native South America to Spain, and on to distant London. At last, he should find himself again as a man of the highlands of  South  America. Reminders of his homeland and the spirit of his disappearing  people – today, it is in  these he will  find the source of  his expression.

One  point I notice in his paintings is that his figures have no faces. They just gaze silently to the  horizon, expressing neither joy nor grief. Time flows slowly, as it has done for  thousands of years, and always to the haunting lament of the zampoña and quena (reed pipe). The figures, who resemble the indigenous people, the Aymaras, do not move, as if  rooted to the earth, and are treated equally with the surrounding mountains and the stone fortresses of ancient Inca. We are accustomed to seeing western  fine art, but  we have the impression that his works are derived from an altogether different oeuvre. More than anything else, his work embodies the essence of Latin American art.

The South American continent, inheriting the Latin culture, has constructed its peculiar culture  for  the  five  centuries, in co-existence with the ancient civilization of the aborigines. It is constructed as the conversation between nature and  man,  and  the communication between man and God. Here, man is engaged in constant intercourse with animal and plant, with the gods of the sun and rain and spirits of the earth. This surrealistic world  is of an entirely different nature to rational European society. Why has  such a  spirit  endured  in Montes, who lives in a big city so far away. It must, of course,  be that here lies his  identity, as an artist. I am sure that in his heart can always be heard the sound of drum and  quena, echoing over the ridges of the Andes.
Mountains in the Heart
Takeshie Kanezawa
Former Vice-Director, Hara Museum, Tokyo, Japan