Painting of the Day

5 Jun

Habitacion No. 23. by Fernando de Szyszlo (born 1925). Acrylic on canvas, 1994. Belongs to the University of Essex Collection of Latin American Art, UK.

Notes from 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die: 

After traveling to Europe in 1949 to become familiar with avant-garde movements such as Cubism and Surrealism, the young Fernando de Szyszlo started to experiment with semi-figurative forms that could convey his identification with a pre-Columbian past, taking literature and poetry as his core inspiration while creating what was to become his hallmark. The painting above was inspired by a poem by Surrealist Argentinian writer Enrique Molina. Standing in the foreground is an abstracted monolithic sculpture with an opened mouthlike expression bearing a collection of garments and objects, such as an ancient warrior would wear when ready for battle. In contrast, the backdrop displays an austere vacant room with a wooden floor, of relatively modern aspect. While the domestic interior makes this painting private and allows one to relate to it, its mystic elements make it mysterious and supernatural, mixing reality with fantasy, fluctuating between the worldly and the sacred, the sinister and the sensual but most importantly, challenging time and space. Szyszlo’s work reflects upon life as a transitory condition. Acting as the viewer’s reflection is the central figure who stands for mankind’s struggle against the inevitability of death, carrying with him the baggage of his life filled with glories and defeats, happiness and sorrows, desires and terrors. Szyszlo acted as a key figure in the development of Peruvian modern art. His paintings are an amalgamation of lyric poetry and modern painting techniques.

My comments:

As I was flipping through 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die find a painting for my post today, this painting immediately stood out to me for its rich, breathtaking colors. I will admit, however, that I really can’t perceive the meaning that the painting apparently possesses according to the notes I posted above. I really don’t see the reflection upon life as a transitory condition that the painting apparently has. Perhaps it would be easier to “understand” the painting in this manner if I knew the poem by Enrique Molina that apparently inspired the painting. Nevertheless, this painting is still quite mesmerizing simply for its colors. They are so deep, even intoxicating. It’s the kind of painting that is easy to stare at for incredibly long periods of time.

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