The Green Morning by Wifredo Lam

In his paintings from the 1940s, Lam represented the dynamic mix at stake in Caribbean culture.

The Green Morning (1943) by Wifredo LamMALBA – Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires

The Green Morning is one of the paintings in which Lam consolidated a language of his own. It depicts what appears to be a Santeria ceremony or rite in the middle of a sugarcane plantation.

From the vegetation emerges a winged and hoofed female body leaning her head. In the Cuban Santeria tradition, this image represents a person possessed by the spirits. The horseshoes are identified with the body that the orisha “mounts."

Coming out from the top of her neck are other heads that represent two orishas: Elegua, guardian of the road, and Ogun, protector of the hills and god of iron.

At her feet is a pyx holding offerings of corn and fruit, and in her dark-red right hand she holds tabaco leaves.

Key to understanding The Green Morning is Lam’s reaffirmation of what he called “the Black thing,” an interest in the population of African descent he shared with Martinican poet and political scientist Aimé Césaire.

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