Market of Paintings by
Domingo Garcia Criado
  Anyone visiting the galleries in Santiago Atitlan will find them full of paintings from the birds eye view, or as it is called in Guatemala, vista del pajaro. My sources tell me that Juan Fermin Gonzalez Morales was the first person to create paintings from this perspective. It is very likely true because Juan Fermin, like many young Maya men, was forcefully inducted into the Guatemala military during the time of violence where he spent time in helicopters. The idea of this perspective probably came from this experience. The first person I saw creating paintings looking from above was Abrajam Batzin Navachoc. Abrajam went on to win first place in the Pintura Popular category of the Paiz Biennal, Guatemala's most prestigious cultural event. This vaulted Abraham's reputation considerably in Guatemala's art community. Soon other artists were borrowing the theme because it sold well with the tourists who visit the lake. These artists, catering to tourists who just wanted a souvenir of Guatemala, not a work of art, began painting the theme more and more quickly, and of course correspondingly less carefully.

Juan Fermin Gonzalez, discouraged from the lack of recognition, never gave up or lowered the quality of his paintings. Where the other artists have created a pattern out of the people and crops in the  vista del pajaro paintings, Juan Fermin has continued to capture the essence of Maya life and activity in his paintings. None of the other artists do this. Their paintings have become a formula. As a example of how Juan Fermin captures Maya life, look at the painting above. A woodcutter is returning home from the forest with a load of firewood on his back. His ax is also tied up with the firewood. In a traditional Maya kitchen, a women cooks over an open fire made from firewood. The woodcutter is accompanied by his dog, and a tropical bird looks down on the scene. A tropical vine has wrapped itself around the branch on which the bird perches. There is a puddle by the path where we can see the reflection of the woodcutter's face. Juan Fermin's paintings are as important for their depiction of Maya life, as they are for their perspective. His paintings are vista del pajaro paintings which will withstand the test of time.



Probando Suerte
[Testing Luck]
18" x 16"
13.5" x 21"
20" x 16"

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