Tica Artist Paints to Show People Paradise

September 28, 2009

I had never heard of artist Cristina Fournier Beéche before I visited a friend’s home in the western San José suburb of Escazú, at the end of my first week in Costa Rica. He rents what I suppose you would call a studio apartment attached to a much bigger house belonging to Fournier.

 
Painting Paradise: Artist Cristina Fournier at the Sept. 17 opening of her latest exhibit of Costa Rican landscapes at the National Museum.
Keely Kernan | Tico Times

In his apartment, an old bathtub is built into the tiled floor in the lounge, next to a large open window looking out onto the tropical garden. Here, among the star fruit trees, Fournier’s fighting cockerels, ducks, chickens, pedigreed cat and four dogs all potter harmoniously.

In the bathroom, one shares the shower with a giant mosaic mermaid sculpture whose hand reaches out from the shower wall and rather conveniently cups the soap.

Above a desk sits an orchid and two miniature drawings of insects within wooden frames.

“Doña Cristina,” my friend told me, was responsible for all of these fascinating touches. He shares lunch with her most Sundays, he said, when they often watch repeats of Hercule Poirot together.

“She’s a national treasure. You should she see her paintings,” he added.

I was invited to lunch that very Sunday, and over a lunch of fish, salad, buttered potatoes and garden-fresh star fruit juice, I realized my friend was right.

Since 1979, Fournier’s paintings have been bought by the Costa Rican government as gifts for King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Queen Beatrix of Holland and Mikhail Gorbachev of Russia, among other international heavyweights.

Influenced by Renoir, Van Gogh and Monet, her watercolor and oil work focuses on the beauty of her native Costa Rica’s countryside, and has been shown in more than 80 exhibitions worldwide.

“I remember it distinctly,” she said, relating the moment her life as an artist was conceived. “I was 10 years old and was washing my hands in the bathroom before lunch with my parents, blowing bubbles with the soap, when I realized I wanted to be a professional artist.

“I decided I wanted to paint for people so they could appreciate and respect our country and its animals. God gave us paradise, and Costa Rica is that paradise – we just don’t always open our eyes to see it. I paint so people can see it.”

Of French-German ancestry, Fournier was born in Costa Rica and grew up in San José’s historic Barrio Amón neighborhood, where she studied at the girl’s school Escuela Perú, as well as at the Alliance Française and Lincoln School.

In 1960, after completing her fine arts and teaching degrees at the University of Costa Rica, she married and moved with her trainee lawyer husband to Maine, New York, for five years. During this period, she had three children and worked as a children’s book illustrator, a greeting card designer and a textile artist.

“I loved New York but found the climate difficult. By January of the first year, my friends said I had wilted like a tropical flower,” she recalled. “After New York, we moved to Honduras at the end of the ’70s. That first morning in Honduras, when the birds started singing, I thought, ‘Thank God I am back in Latin America.’”

Returning to Costa Rica, Fournier spent eight years teaching art in San José before dedicating herself full-time to her passion, painting landscapes across Europe and the United States.

Her latest exhibition, an aesthetic tribute to Costa Rica’s wealth of natural beauty, is on display through Oct. 18 at San José’s National Museum. The 20-piece exhibit includes an incomplete mural, stretching the entire length of the museum wall, that has been 15 years in the making so far.

For more on the artist and to see some of her work, visit

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Slothy Sunday: Just hanging out
Sloth Sundays
15 views
Sloth Sundays
15 views

Slothy Sunday: Just hanging out

Alejandro Zúñiga - May 26, 2019

Last week, Denise Gillen, a sloth nanny from the Toucan Rescue Ranch, shared the story of Bon Jovi, a sloth…

Twice as nice: Güity wins second gold at Grand Prix
Costa Rica
18 views
Costa Rica
18 views

Twice as nice: Güity wins second gold at Grand Prix

Alejandro Zúñiga - May 25, 2019

A day after he placed himself atop the world rankings with his time in the 200-meter T64 at the 2019…

Costa Rica obtains $500 million from CAF for fiscal support
Costa Rica
49 views
Costa Rica
49 views

Costa Rica obtains $500 million from CAF for fiscal support

AFP and The Tico Times - May 25, 2019

The Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) on Friday granted a $500 million credit to Costa Rica to support the…

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!