FREAKY ART IN GUATEMALA

In general, the art

in Guatemala is quite beautiful – there is a lot of professional photography to be found, plenty of gorgeous paintings and an abundance of textiles (remember THIS POST?)…but… there is also some not-so-nice stuff.

Namely, the paintings below. I found them in a market shop (I forget the name) on one of the busy city streets in Antigua, and while there was plenty of gorgeous stuff for sale, these paintings seemed a little out of place.

Hookers on a street corner (obviously).

A stripper (with a killer body and pretty panties) pole dancing.

I have no idea what this one is about...maybe men drinking in excess with a "thumbs up"?

Reckless driving that results in murder?

They scared me a little (and I have spared you some of the jarring imagery). Especially since they were all displayed in one large, terrifying collage on a 5 foot tall wall.

Too much freaky imagery all in one spot!

So,  I knew I must be “scared” or weird-ed out by these paintings because I didn’t know what they meant.

A salesperson explained to me that they depict people’s stories about how God intervened in their lives in order to prevent bad things from happening. The paintings (made of thick cardstock, painted with acrylic and market pen) are meant to be hung in your house to remind you of the “good of God”, and to give you strength. GEEZ. Not quite the imagery I’d expect to accompany a moral message, but hey, what do I know!

Looking closer, I noticed that each painting was accompanied by a short explanation (in Spanish) that describes someone’s personal experience with holy intervention.

Text translation: "I thank the Virgin of Guadelupe for arriving in time before the beggar priest violated my child. When I made him confess, I asked God to punish this damned priest. - Ms. Anastacia, Petrez Castillo, Mexico, 1951."

Text translation: "I give thanks to the holy Saint Anthony who gave me the strength to give a kick to the balls of the disgraced one who tried to violate me, so I could sve my virtue. - Miss Soledad Castillo Garcia, Mexico, 1993."

Text translation: "I'm very thankful for the Virgin of Guadelupe who delivered me from the horrible nightmares that overwhelmed me where the devil raped me, but my strong saint saved me and I now sleep peacefully. I dedicate this to her. - Saint Anthony, Aquas Caliente, 1959".

The paintings make a bit more sense with the context of the text, right? I can see the holy saint painted into each scene – obviously the spirit who was responsible for “saving” the troubled people in the stories is painted into the background.

FINAL VERDICT:

The paintings may serve to send a positive message (if you’re Catholic/Christian, and believe in God and Jesus etc, etc,) but I still think the freak imagery overwhelms the message!  (whatever happened to subtlety, people?!). I can’t say I totally hate the painting style (the bold colour planes and simplistic forms are fun in an innocent/juvenile kind of way), but some of the imagery is just a little too bold to hang in my house :)

I love when I find art from another culture that makes no sense to me because of the values I grew up with…but then, when I remember to stay open-minded, I end up learning something.

In this case, I definitely judged a book by its cover (and I’m still not convinced this could have been prevented!)…I’ll know better next time.

(p.s. If anyone knows the name of the artist who produced these works, please leave the artist’s name in the comments below! Thanks!)

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7 Comments

  1. ..hahaha sí eso lo he visto en el mercadito, creo que tiene mucha influencia de nuestro vecino México, somos un país multi-cutural, no quiere decir que estas pinturas sean Guatemala, no, Guatemala es bella, es linda y su gente es hermosa. Saludos y siempre bienvenida a Guatemala y en especial a La Antigua.

  2. Hola Stefan, pienso que estas pinturas son Mexicano – los nombres de gente son Mexicano, no? Me gusta las pinturas porque son mui interessante, pero, no me gusta por mi casa :) Lo siento por el espanol malo, estoy apprendiendo poco a poco!

  3. non me gusta! Lo siento..the artists may have had some serious life changing moments, but I think they took some liberties in depicting their salvation so graphically. Maybe they are all just born-again porn-artists. Mio Dio!

  4. Tania, you’re always welcome to visit Guatemala.. and should be Mexican, congratulations for your blog, is incredible. [:

    Marisa, hahahaha you’re right, but you should see 100% Guatemalan art, you’ll love it.

    greetings!.

  5. Tania,

    I stopped by to catch up on you today, and WOW! I’m so glad I did. Thank you for sharing this. I love learning about other cultures and I find this so interesting.

    Art is all about interpretation, but holy disturbing! Did your jaw hit the ground at first glance? Do people really hang these works out in the open in their home — exposing an extremely private & painful part of themselves, their lives, where in American culture would be kept very private…buried.

    What a wonderful lesson and although it depicts God’s intervention, the disturbing visual resinates much more deeply than the escape.

    This was a wonderful lesson. Thank you again.

  6. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, Cashmerepen – I am happy that you were entertained ;) And yes, my jaw did hit the floor, only because I didn’t expect to see so many different photos that appeared so vulgar, but actually have a positive message. I didn’t post all the photos I have of the paintings – some are just too graphic. At least we had a good laugh and learned something new ;)

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