"Por su cruz jura" clearly displays a number of the concerns of Xul’s art during this period: the construction of the human body and its bold display in the nude; a complex symbolism heightened by the snake, a sort of personal trademark of the artist; spatial ambiguity (interior/exterior, sacred/profane); and the close tie between painting and writing, where writing is not simply added on to the work but a constituent element of it. The apparent chaos evidences the freedom with which the artist takes root outside the established and expected order of things—an affirmation of his notion of new art. The body of the character—perhaps an angel—in this work is disjointed: The neck and head are detached from the torso, and the arms and legs, askew to the central axis, point in opposite directions. A religious symbol used often by Xul, the cross—in this case, a Greek cross—plays a fundamental role in the composition, thanks to its pitch- black color and its symbolic weight. While
it seems as if the character could reach up and touch the sun, he bows down in devotion before the cross.


  • Title: By His Cross He Swears
  • Creator: Alejandro Xul Solar
  • Date Created: 1923
  • Physical Dimensions: 10 x 12.6 in
  • Provenance: Malba Collection
  • Medium: Watercolor and gouache on paper mounted on cardboard

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