51" x 38", oil on canvas
Victor Vasquez Temó
A truck with three occupants has gone off the edge of a mountain road. Accidents occur too frequently in Guatemala especially in the mountains. The narrow two-lane roads do not have guard rails and the drop from the heights of many mountains is significant. Stuck behind slow moving vehicles drives frequently pass when it is not safe. Buses go too fast because they are trying to beat another bus to the people [fares] waiting on the roadside.
The towns-people, all of them from the towns around Lake Atitlán, are rescuing the passengers, and pulling the truck back up the mountain. The ropes and the poles used for the rescue all radiate out from the truck and and the people, 54 full figures and around 100 others who we see only as heads, completely fill the painting. On first inspection the cab of the truck looks more like a pile of lettuce, but once the viewer realizes what the artist intended, the confusion vanishes and painting falls into place. The victims are all bleeding and appear unconscious. One is hanging out of the cab door, and we can’t tell if he is alive or dead, the other two appear seriously injured but alive. The naive quality of the painting lightens the tragic aspect of an accident of the theme allowing us to view it with humor. Victor compressed the events into one moment; the occupants would have been rescued immediately, and some days or weeks later the vehicle would have been moved.
Victor’s spontaneity is most apparent in the free strokes he uses in the grass on the lower level, a nice contrast to the more careful painting in the traje of the people. He uses color freely—like the women do in their weavings—making the sky, the mountains, the roadbed more fanciful in color than they really are.