Rescate del Bus
(Rescue of the Bus)
32" x 60", oil on canvas
Victor Vasquez Temó
Of all of Victor’s paintings this one is the most universally loved. Anyone who has spent more than a month in a Latin American country using the bus system has probably been affected by some breakdown—a flat tire, a broken axle, or going into a ditch at the side of the road. Here the bus has gotten stuck in the mud. Since the signing of the peace accord, a lot of dirt roads have been paved, but to get to many towns you still have to travel for hours over dirt roads. During the rainy season, May to September, it rains hard almost every day converting these dirt roads to mud. If the bus gets stuck or goes into a ditch everybody gets off while the situation is assessed. Drivers are loathe to give refunds as this usually comes directly out of their pocket, not the company’s, therefore they try to solve the problem as quickly as possible. If the problem is going to take some time to solve and the road is well traveled, the passengers will wait for the next bus which happens to come along. This of course means they will not get seats and be standing for the remainder of the trip, but they will still get there even if a few hours late. If it is a dirt road, it is likely that the bus only goes once or twice a day over it so the wait may be six, twelve or twenty-four hours. In this case everyone works hard to get the bus running again. Here everyone has gotten out of the bus and is using ropes and poles to get the bus out of the mud. The first attempt would be made by all the passengers with the bus empty. If this failed, the baggage and especially the pigs on the roof would be removed to further lighten the load. The amount of the poles and ropes indicate this attempt would not be the first because someone would have to gather the poles. Victor represents both the first attempt loaded and a later attempt, perhaps even on another day, in the same painting. He has taken artistic license with the enormous ropes, the sky, and the positions of the people but in doing so Victor creates an overall dynamic effect in the painting which perfectly expresses the situation.
Up until Victor Vasquez began painting no artist had put a modern vehicle into his paintings, nothing of the modern word encroached upon the traditional Mayan world. Victor bridged the two worlds naturally. Victor learned to paint on his own and painted what he observed in life, rather than how other artists painted things. The world of his paintings thus is direct and naively charming.