comida y cultura - audrey angel

A gallery that examines Latino artwork from the 20th century, influenced by its most prevalent novelty--food. This cultural phenomenon is explored through an array of foods that hold a particular significance in the culture. These specially chosen pieces are examined in a medium of paint and explained through the symbolism behind them.    

The painting depicts an assortment of watermelons, all in different positions with contrasting light. The lower-center of the painting has a slice of watermelon, with the words “Viva La Vida-Frida Kahlo Coyoacan 1954 Mexico.” Symbolically, watermelons mean happiness and well being which were also Kahlo’s last wishes before she died, eight days after the completion of this painting.
A woman bending over a mecate, a stone table used for grinding corn into masa for tortillas. Behind the woman is a brazero (grill), where three freshly made tortillas are toasting on a comal. In Mexico, tortillas are a staple in every meal and are largely symbolic in many Latin countries. Diego Rivera was largely known for combing Mexican culture into his paintings and murals, depicting life as it was, during the 20th century.
This piece of work shows an array of treats and fruits, arranged on a yellow tablecloth. The treats include a slice of cake, biscuits, and the centerpiece (focus)—an ice cream or helado. The artwork of this Colombian artist is carefully chosen, with scenes that convey a contemporary culture. In Latin culture sweets are largely loved and made. Every country holds its own specific deserts, but the helado, is known throughout Latin America.
Frida Kahlo lays on a bed, trapped under a ladder that is holding up a cornucopia of meats—fish, chicken, and even chorizo. This cornucopia, in the shape of a funnel, is being fed into Kahlo’s mouth, balanced by a surrealistic background of a dessert in night and day. The focus of the painting lies within the array of meats, which are adorned with a single catrina (sugar skull). The symbolism behind the catrina is death—catrinas are largely used in Mexican culture during El Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead. During the week of Dia de Los Muertos, families of deceased put together an ofrenda, or offering, for their dead to come and feast on.
The Watermelons by Diego Rivera is another ode to the great fruit. On a green table, eight pieces of watermelon are placed, each with differentiating amounts of consumption. The pieces are also cut in many different ways, showing the variety of the fruit. The color usage is very organic; Rivera choosing to use greens and browns to compliment the red of the watermelons. Mexican culture is highly influence by fruits and vegetables that are cultivated in the country, and provide sustenance for its people.
A plump woman in a yellow dress with rosy cheeks sits at peripheral in front of a wooden table that holds a small botana (snack) of watermelon, water, and bread. Apart from the food itself, Latin American culture puts a large emphasis on friends and family. These special relationships are formed at the table, where meals are shared along with stories, and lots of chisme (gossip). Botero balanced this particular painting by putting equal light and dark values symmetrically on either side of the woman. The pastels finish the piece by giving it a whimsical and happy context.
Largely known for her surrealistic paintings, Frida Kahlo also painted still life. In this particular painting, Kahlo opted for large arrangements of fruits and vegetables often found in typical Mexican gardens. Some of the elements include tunas, which are the fruits from Cactus plants, a common fruit of the country. More elements include squash or calabaza, which is larger than all the other items—clear hierarchy used to show importance.
Agriculture is Mexico’s leading industry and most highly sought after resource. The abundance of vegetation that grows in the country supplements their rising economy. In Diego Rivera’s “Cabbage Seller,” an indigenous man is depicted hunched over with a canasta (basket) of cabbages, being pulled down by the weight of his load. This could easily represent the pressure of the field workers to keep up with increasing demand for harvest, and Mexico’s declining poor.
Framed in gold, “Bananos” depicts a mahogany table half-draped with a white cloth, and adorned by a bushel of plantains. Plantains are a food that is very unique to Latin cultures because they are a food that is shared through Afro descendence and the slave trade. Very similarly with the earlier helados, platanos or bananos are a food that holds variety depending on the country—some dine on this fruit as a desert, fried and topped with crema, and some, chose to eat it with rice and beans
The final piece of the gallery holds a masterpiece from famed painter, Diego Rivera. The piece shows rabanos or radishes, which hold an anthropomorphic quality—seeming to portray human mannerisms. These radishes are unearthing themselves, coming up from a bed of soil, sprouting upwards. The painting is part of a tradition that is celebrated in Oaxaca, Mexico where people compete to create the best artwork using anthropomorphic radishes. This tradition, one of many, exemplifies the magnitude, variety, and beauty of Latin American culture, and above all, the delicious comida, and the value it holds for us.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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