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Peasants and the wife of a plantation master stand facing each other with a gigantic cactus, a kind of agave called maguey, in between them. In the background of swirling clouds and dry land, the cruel reality in which the peasants found themselves before Mexico's revolution is clearly depicted. Maguey has been a necessity of life to the masses in Mexico. From its juices, popular liquors among the Mexican people such as pulque and tequila are made, its thick leaves are used as construction material, and its fiber is used to make sandals and ropes. In the 19th century, however, pulque became an important export, which resulted in the cultivation of vast plantations of maguey and thus, peasants were forced to work there as if they had been slaves. Anger and sorrow against heartless plantation masters were about to reach their peak. As if sensing a storm of revolution drawing near, intensity is increased by the movement of the atmosphere in the painting.
The gigantic maguey, showing its fangs against the sky in the wilderness as if it were a dinosaur, can be referred to as a symbol of the Mexican land, which always quietly observed the Mexican masses being tossed about by fate. The simple and organic shape of maguey often appears as an important factor of Orozco's painting configuration. The gigantic maguey in "Mexican Landscape", is painted so as to have power to overwhelm the whole painting, as if protecting the peasant mother and her child from the wife of the plantation master.
(Source: Selected Works from the Collection of Nagoya City Art Museum, 1998, P. 49.)

Details

  • Title: Mexican Landscape [Paisaije Mexicano]
  • Creator: José Clemente Orozco
  • Date Created: 1932
  • Location: Mexico
  • Physical Dimensions: 76.1×93.9 cm
  • Provenance: Purchased in 1986
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Nagoya City Art Museum
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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