|Pedro Rafael González Chavajay
Las Huellas de Ayer y de Hoy
Footsteps of Yesterday and Today
Triptych size 2.5' x 10', each panel 30" x 40"
|In the big picture the painting Huellas de Ayer y Hoy
represents the Maya culture in all its aspects as it existed for the 500
years after the arrival of the Spanish. It depicts the procession for the festival of San Pedro la Laguna which takes place on the 24 of June, the day of the patron saint of San Pedro—Saint Peter. The procession is how it and San Pedro, then a village, would have looked in about 1950. The decision of Pedro Rafael Gonzalez Chavajay to paint the theme as a triptych
was not arbitrary. The procession as enacted in around 1950 exhibited the traditional relationship between the ancient Mayan customs, the church, and the town government—a relationship which came into being after the Conquest and existed essentially unchanged for hundreds of years. In the last fifty years the traditional Mayan society has disintegrated due to the advent of fundamentalist Christianity in Central American; the advances in technology especially radio, television and telephone; and young people preferring to speak Spanish rather than Tz'utuhil Mayan. One no longer sees a procession which contains all three parts of the Mayan society—the church, the municipality, and ancient Mayan traditions. The masked dancers perform in the streets by themselves, the procession contains only members of the Catholic church, and the municipality holds separate events some with marimbas. The society of San Pedro is no longer a whole, but three separate parts each represented symbolically by one part of the triptych.
The triptych was the highlight of an exhibition in Madrid Spain during 2001 entitled Arte y Creencias en Guatemala [Art and Beliefs in Guatemala] part of the XII Festival of Sacred Art. It spent over a year in Madrid and was exhibited in 16 different places as part of the festival. The catalogue, a fifty page book said of this painting: "El tríptico de Pedro Rafael Gonzalez es una obra muy importante, se pudiera decir de un naïf llevado a un punto máximo de su perfección y tiqueza, tanto formal como de contienido. La abundancia de detalles y situaciones está manejada con gran pulcritud.." [The triptych of Pedro Rafael Gonzalez is a very important work, one could say a naive painting taken to a maximum point of perfection and richness, as formal as the theme. The abundance of details and situations is handled with great beauty.]