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Born in the province of Colón, Panamá in 1976, Thannyo De Freitas Navarro experienced an upbringing in which artistic expression and earthly connection were central. In response to his participation in many artistic competitions throughout adolescence, he was awarded a scholarship to progress academically in Panama City. He obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Panama, specializing in visual arts with a particular focus on drawing and painting. His work is currently exhibited in Panama, New York City, El Salvador, Sao Paulo, and the Dominican Republic.
The contemporary landscapes of Thannyo De Freitas possess qualities that parallel the work of Tomás Sánchez, a Cuban painter widely acknowledged for his modern pastoral depictions. Like Sánchez, Thannyo’s work beholds photographic qualities achieved through sharp detail, the absence of visible brush stroke, and primarily realistic color usage. The ethereal manner in which he portrays nature suggests surrealist undertones. Considering the impactful presence of deforestation in Panama, his depiction of untouched forests and boundless landscapes can be interpreted as a romanticized version of the environment’s dire reality.
A significant portion of his work depicts the Guayacán tree, which beholds the scientific name Guaiacum Sanctum. An alternative title for this flora species is the latin prose Lignum Vitae, which translates to “wood of life” or “tree of life”; nicknamed accordingly because of its great density and strength, as well as its healing properties. From Thannyo’s perspective as a spiritual individual, he finds nature to be integral to human life; the latin translation of Lignum Vitae is an affirmation of this seminal truth.
Thannyo’s immense respect for nature can be witnessed through his artistic attentiveness, as well as his fastidious and recurrent depiction of the Guayacán tree. His connection to the subject is evident when considering his choice to suspend the roots, which can be representative of inherent strength and capability, often imperceivable to the eye, like that of underground roots. This exposure suggests the falsity of external cognizance because true essence is invisible. Even trees of small sizes possess roots that blossom under the surface, broadening in size and connecting those surrounding them. Below the surface lies a supportive network enabling the collective forest to flourish, thus a signification of togetherness and care: a reflection of the artist’s appreciation for familial support and the impactful roots that have shaped his own being.
Thannyo believes strongly in the importance of unapologetic transparency in accordance with one’s inner candor, rather than living blindly in an attempt to appease external pressure. By exposing the roots, the artist encourages open expression of self and the courageous act of vulnerability. Art, as well as nature, serve as forms of meditative practice for him. Through the act of sharing his work, the artist grants the viewer access to his inner ethos in hopes of inspiring serenity, energetic stabilization –which can often only be initiated by nature– tenderness for the earth, and heightened care for ourselves.