Reputed to be home to the greatest range of biodiversity of any country in the world, Costa Rica is a natural paradise. Artist Manuel E Gonzalez aims to transport these riches onto canvas.
Mangroves play a vital role in biodiversity conservation, protecting against coastal erosion and providing a habitat for numerous species
I simply try to imitate mother nature on a canvas. It would never be possible to drink the water from a creek in my paintings, or see one of my birds flying, but perhaps I elicit a small tear of nostalgia for what is lost and a smile of hope for what can be saved. My work is a legacy for the future, and shows us what we had and failed to appreciate, while issuing a call to save what we still can.
Almost 900 species of bird have been recorded in Costa Rica, which is more than in the US and Canada combined
He sees it as his duty, and that of other artists, to use their talent in a constructive way, which for him, is increasing environmental awareness. His paintings, which can take a month to execute once after the period of preliminary studies, have been well received. "Some people have never been so close to a tropical forest, and this might be the only chance they ever get."
Besides seducing the viewer into a world of exceptional natural beauty, the project, which Gonzalez has been working on for six years now, has an educational value. "Each canvas," he says, "shows flora and fauna native to the type of forest I depict." He is now hoping to sell reproductions of his work in order to be able to continue.