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Monica E. Kupfer

(b Horconcitos, Chiriquí, Feb 11, 1927).

Panamanian painter, ceramicist, printmaker, tapestry designer and landscape architect. He studied both architecture and painting in Panama, holding his first exhibition in 1953; he then continued his studies in Madrid (1954–8) at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, at the Escuela de Cerámica de la Moncloa and at the Escuela Superior de Arquitectura. In 1959 he returned to Panama, where he began a long teaching career at the Universidad de Panamá. In the early 1960s Trujillo painted social satires, such as The Commissioners (1964; Panama City, Mus. A. Contemp.) with small monstrous figures in cavernous settings. Later his palette brightened as he turned to new subjects based on nature, including numerous still-lifes and semi-abstract paintings with botanical allusions, for example Still-life with Fruit (1975; Washington, DC, A. Mus. Americas).

Always a versatile and prolific artist, in the 1970s and 1980s he based his subjects both on his rich imagination and on his knowledge of Panama’s indigenous cultures. He made recurring reference to the patterns of pre-Columbian ceramics, natural and biomorphic forms, mythological and primitive figures, and Indian symbols and ceremonies, all treated as elements of an iconography strongly related to his Panamanian origin. Although generally classified as belonging to the return to figuration among Latin American artists, he ranged stylistically from realism to abstraction....