Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The artisanal culture in general and naive painting specifically is alive and well in Nicaragua. The Mercado Viejo in Masaya is a great place to experience it in a sensory overload, all you can manage in one sitting sort of manner. Joel and Jake are pictured in front of this mural in the market depicting the town of Masaya--I included the picture with them in it to give a sense of the scale of the painting. It's huge, with dozens of sub-scenes contained within it. There are parades, masks, intrigue, religion, superstition, and bucolic campesino life all in one wall.
I love Nicaraguan paintings and I was not dissapointed by what I found in Masaya. The paintings are very evocative of the place that they depict. The colors are vivid. The church is a prominent feature. Often there are volcanoes in the background--Nicaragua has five volcanoes, Mombacho being the one closest to Masaya, but there are two on the island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua that would be closer to the Solentiname Island artist colony where many of these painters live, made famous by the revolutionary turned priest and sculptor, Ernesto Cardinal. There are fincas everywhere. The ubiquitous school-buses-turned-chicken-buses are often featured. A cow here and a goat there (there is not what you would call factory farming much in evidence here). Nicas in the fields working are another common feature--the paintings transport you to the place they are from. Warm places, warm people, a primitive life.