Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Nicaraguan toilet paintings of Masaya


click to enlarge the painting


My brother and sister in law, Dean and Mary, brought back an oil painting for me that they discovered in Masaya, Nicaragua, at one of the art markets. You can read about their trip at the notorious Almost There In No Time.

When they saw this canvas, they knew just who would love the work. As it turns out, Dean Ericksen told me there were dozens of paintings of people sitting on the toilet in the art stalls! I have researched this up and down the 'net and been unable to find any references to how this genre of painting came to be popular in Masaya, Nicaragua. I may have to travel there to find the answer. Dean did say that much of the art clearly mimicked popular or well-known painters, like Diego Rivera or Posada. Clearly there was some germination point, and I am hoping one of our readers can either find information, or may even know about this subject matter. Clearly, the palette is Mexican/Central American. The colors, tilework, and spartan furnishings of the bath absolutely remind me of baths in places I have seen or stayed in Jalisco and Nayarit.

The painting is on stretched canvas. The stretcher bars are not the traditional ones we use in the U.S., but they are mitered. The bars don't seem to be interlocking, but they are tight. The canvas itself is fairly light. The canvas, along the edges is clearly not primed, but I think it may be primed under the actual face of the canvas, where the oil paint was applied. Instead of the canvas staples we use, the canvas is attached to the stretchers by small galvanized nails or brads. The paint is glazed with some sort of medium or varnish; I can tell because they missed a very small patch. It almost looks like there was some sort of mistake that was painted over on the yellow wall, and they forgot to varnish that correction. The painting seems to have been signed by "Velasquez" and it seems to have the abbreviation "Nic."

I have seen numerous impressionist paintings focused around the bath, but none with such an explicit focus on the toilet itself. In those paintings, you usually see a zoftig woman combing her hair. In this painting however, the subject of the painting is clearly using the toilet, with her panties resting just below knee-level. I don't know how to explain this one, but I gladly display it, alongside my other treasured folk-art pieces. . .none of which I really know the provenance of. If you just winced, yeah, I know it's tref to end a sentence with a preposition. It's late and I'm feeling lazy. Selah.
---o0o---

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

so who do you think you are to criticise other people for what they do. didn't you mama teach you to keep your mouth shut. You have two choices: take it or leave it, if you don't like something just leave it and move on no need to be nasty thinking that you are all that like to criticise others. GRINGOOOOOOOOOOS......