La Vida de los Campesinos
(The Peasants' Life)
65" x 94", oil on canvas

Matias Gonzalez Chavajay

The life of a campesino may encompasses both work on the lowland fincas [plantations] and on a Mayan family’s own land in the highland villages. The bottom half of the painting represents the vast plantations showing the four major cash crops grown on the fincas: bananas, sugarcane, cotton, and coffee. Included among these crops is maiz, corn, the backbone of Mayan agriculture and Mayan society. The mountains rise above these five crops, and on the side of these mountains were see the landscape divided into the small individual plots of the campesinos. We see plots of corn (used to make tortillas) and plots of coffee (the major cash crop for Mayan families), and we see pastures for grazing sheep and cows. Among these plots we see farm houses and outbuildings and dirt roads and occasional fruit trees such as banana.

The huge size of this paintings gives a person the sense of what it is like to be in rural Guatemala with Mayan Indians working in the fields and the plot covered volcanos rising above everything. It is the largest painting so far done by a self taught Mayan painter. It was done for a UNESCO exhibition for the publication of the book "Arte Naif, Guatemala", the reception of which was attended by Jacques Chirac, president of France, and Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace Prize winner.