The art of Pepe Dámaso in Maspalomas
Born José Dámaso Trujillo in December 1933 at Agaete, Pepe Dámaso is one of Gran Canaria's most popular contemporary artists. His work is influenced by ancestral Canarian and African traditions and mainly includes painting, installations, designs, and sculpture. It is possible to discover some of its more famous pieces of art in Maspalomas.
Pepe Dámaso is a openly gay artist with an exuberant and colorful personality. He has exhibited all over the world, especially in Africa, Europe, North America, and Latin America, and of course many times in Gran Canaria, where his birthplace is about to be turned into a museum by the Canarian Government. From now, it is already possible to admire three major pieces of his art in the heart of Maspalomas, each in a very different style. It's about a mural painting, a mosaic, and a sculpture. He also designed two posters for official Municipal events.
In the 1960s, the seaside resort of Maspalomas was in its infancy, and construction began to spring up everywhere. But the city needs art and beauty. It was then that the architects and urban planners called on Pepe Dámaso - already very well known and with international fame - they called him twice in quick succession in 1965 and 1966.
Cosmos (1965) :
In 1965, Pepe Dámaso signed a first mural in Maspalomas, all in relief and with very large dimensions, entitled Cosmos, which he installed in the entrance hall of the Folias Hotel, the first hotel built in San Agustin. The piece of art is a mix of various materials organized like a collage on a painted background where yellow and white dominate. The center of the work is a concentration of metallic circles, which recall the planets and the cosmic universe. There are glued on top of each other lids for industrial drums, tool boxes, fish traps, and various irons. This work, renovated in 2012, is still visible today inside the building, which is now called New Folias.
Las Arenas Mosaic (1966) :
One year later, Maspalomas called Dámaso again for a new creation. This time, it is for the Las Arenas building, a very brand new aparthotel located in Playa del Inglés, just in front of the entrance of the, at the moment, very modern Metro Shopping Centre. This work is mainly composed of a mix of stone mosaic and painting. The circles are again the main elements of the design, but they are juxtaposed and integrated with hundreds of other geometric shapes. The tones are soft. The dominant color is silver, but there are also grey, green, blue and pink. The piece of art is located on the ceiling of the entrance hall. All you have to do is raise your eyes to the sky, and you'll be amazed.
Maspalomas 50th Anniversary (2012) :
In 2012, Maspalomas turned 50 years old, and once again the municipality called the great artist Pepe Dámaso to celebrate the event. This time, it is his talent as a graphic designer and model maker who is in demand, and this collaboration will give birth to three works marked by the seal of "50 Aniversario Maspalomas Costa Canaria".
The first one is the official poster for the Maspalomas International Carnival (February 20th - March 4th) whose theme this year is "Mas*POP*lomas". Pepe Dámaso designs a poster with reminiscent of pop art and dove-shaped carnival masks that recall the word "palomas" that is heard in the name Maspalomas.
Almost at the same time, Pépe Dámaso created the official poster for the Maspalomas 50th anniversary celebrations. The picture is sober, colorful, and includes the same pattern of doves and pop art as in the poster of the carnival.
These two artworks will tour the world and represent the south of Gran Canaria internationally in numerous media ! Once again, Pépe Dámaso becomes Gran Canaria's ambassador at an international level.
Estaca Fundacional (2012) :
Finally, still on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Maspalomas, Pepe Dámaso composes a monumental statue that is installed at the entrance to the town of San Agustin, on a roundabout at the intersection of the GC 500 and other streets. The monument was officially inaugurated on October 15, 2012. It's about an allegorical sculpture that recreates the stake that the Count of Vega Grande, Alejandro del Castillo, and the architects Manuel de la Peña and Ulises Medina drove into the area on October 15, 1962, to start the work on the creation of Maspalomas, delimitating for the first time the lines of the tourist urbanization and its subsequent development.
In this masterpiece called "Estaca Fundacional" (Fundation Stake), Pepe Dámaso added once more a symbol of a dove, like he did for his other creations related to the 50th anniversary of Maspalomas. Made as a huge iron wedge lined with rabiatta wood in 5-centimeter-thick slats. The sculpture is 7 meters high and three meters wide at its top, and barely 90 centimeters at its base.
Finally, note that there is also another piece of art by Pépe Dámaso in Maspalomas. But this work is located in the thalasso spa of the San Agustin Gloria Palace, so it is not a public, free-access piece, and you have to pay to go there or be a guest of the hotel.
The renowned Gran Canarian painter Pepe Dámaso made notable contributions to this project, creating the large mural that covers the pool perimeter as well as sculptures of stones and algae, decorative paintings on the roof, and ceramic details in the cabins.
Throughout his career, Pépe Dámaso has signed more than 7,000 works spread all over the world but especially in Gran Canaria. In 2017, an agreement was signed with the Cabildo de Gran Canaria and the town hall of Agaete to transform his birthplace and his workshop into a museum within a few years. On this occasion, Pepe Dámaso donated more than 6,000 of his works to the Canarian people.