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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)