Goyita by Rafael Tufiño Figueroa

Goyita (1953) by Rafael Tufiño FigueroaInstituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña

Considered as one of Tufiño's seminal works, the artist's model of choice is none other than his own mother, Gregoria Figueroa; whose countenance he has so masterfully captured in this powerful and rather heroic tribute.

Goyita’s surroundings depict the San José slum in the San Juan neighborhood of Hato Rey.

As was the custom in portraiture of this time, the sitter was usually a male belonging to the bourgeoisie or a figure of renown within intellectual circles.

With Goyita, Tufiño flips this canon on its head, achieving a groundbreaking portrait that shifts the viewers’ gaze from the depictions of an affluent few to the proletariat; a move that confronts the spectator’s social prejudices through a dignified depiction of a working class woman.

Behind Goyita’s image, we can spot the depiction of a child selling nuts. Could this be a self-portrait of the artist at a young age?

A curious and fascinating detail that remains open to the viewer's interpretation.

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