Painting had always been an expression of one’s unique and genuine culture. It is for eternity has a story to tell. These stories may tell what the society was like before or what the painter feels at that moment. It also tells what catches the attention of the people around or emphasizes a unique characteristic of what is being represented and what it makes beautiful to the eyes of the beholder.
There are many elements combined skillfully to present the message of the painting accordingly. Though it is presenting the reality at that time artistically, it is not trying to represent the real picture. With the combination of lines, colors, forms, space, and texture, the hidden message of the painting is uncovered and conveyed.
The La Era Painter
The eminent La Era painting was created by Diego Rivera. Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuanto, Mexico on the eighth day of December 1886 and stayed there until 1892 before they moved to Mexico City (“Diego Rivera (1886-1957)”). He studied at San Carlos Academy in his early years where he manifested a talent in drawing (“Diego Rivera (1886-1957)”). He already made twenty-six artworks at the academy after eight years (“Diego Rivera (1886-1957)”). Unfortunately, he was expelled from the acdemy at sixteen upon participation in a student strike (“Diego Rivera (1886-1957)”).
It was in the year 1907 when Diego Rivera was able to study abroad through a scholarship with the help of his father (“Diego Rivera (1886-1957)”). For the next three years, he traveled Spain and Europe to exhibit his works (“Diego Rivera (1886-1957)”). In 1910, he went back to Mexico City where his exhibition was a success in which the First Lady of Mexico and the Academy of Fine Arts bought a number of his works (“Diego Rivera (1886-1957)”). He has been in Paris in 1911 with close Russian acquaintances because of his two Russian mistresses at that time (“Diego Rivera (1886-1957)”).
Diego Rivera has been acknowledged as the Father of Modern Mexican Political Art and Father of Mexican Mural Art because he represented the history of his country in a radical and patriotic perspective through his murals under modern techniques (Zacarías). He maintained and preserved the past of his culture and national uniqueness that made him a significant persona in the art community of the twentieth century (Zacarías).
The beginning and recognition of the Mexican mural art has been a momentous and important event the Mexican government has made for further accenting the role of political art (Zacarías). It helped in the national awareness of the role of art in revolution and insurrection (Zacarías). The modernism style adapted is different from the usual cubism and surrealism modernism techniques. Rather, Diego Rivera and fellow artists returned the realism technique to communicate to the people of their radical thoughts (Zacarías). In contrast from histories of other countries where their revolutionary thoughts and ideas are conveyed through novels, plays, news, or even violence, Diego Rivera and his fellow artists had made an exceptional movement which is remarkable to itself.
Though Diego Rivera had been a great contributor in the world of art and an influential Mexican artist, he was often best known of his infidelity, womanizing, and gigantic size (“Diego Rivera (1886-1957)”; “Diego Rivera”). His past has been an open book to all but this was never used against him to steal from him of the recognition and respect he deserved. This then implies that what make a person are not his deeds but the heart that is behind those deeds.
The La Era Painting
The La Era painting is one of Diego Rivera’s artworks at an early age before he went to study abroad under a scholarship (“Diego Rivera (1886-1957)”; “Le Era 1904”). La Era is made in 1904 under oil on canvas (“Le Era 1904”). It is presently displayed along with other Rivera’s artworks at Museo Diego Rivera, Guanajuato, Mexico. The painting is a picturesque of the humble farmland of Mexico maybe in his home Guanajato because the painting is made after they moved to Mexico City. It shows a farmer, with his two donkeys as implied in the animals’ heights, who was done of another strenuous farm work. At the exit gate of the farmer’s residential land is a family member to meet the breadwinner of the family for an completed day’s work.
The Implication of the Painting
Compared to the latest artworks of Diego Rivera where space is limited, this early work of his was spacious to further emphasize the vastness of the area being presented in the painting. The lines are combination of straight and slightly curve. But mostly they are straight lines and the texture was smooth. This indicates that the image would like to convey a message of calmness, that is, relaxation after an intense and arduous work.
The intensity of the color signifies that it has been a tough and laborious day. The color plus the appearance and direction of the shadow also represents that the day is ending. The slight bending of the farmer’s body shows a tired body yearning for a relaxation if possible sooner. The important part of the image is emphasized from center to farthest, which is, the waiting family member and the approaching farmer. Though there are other accents in the painting like the mountain and the residential houses, it showed us that the best memory in our lives are not always around us but what is infront of us which may never occur again.
The transition of color from an intense yellow and orange where the farmer is to a cool blue and green where the family member is and the residential house in blue roof indicates that the target destiny of the main character in the painting is his family. With family is home where his desired relaxation can be felt. At an early age of Diego Rivera, he was able to capture the emotion behind this simple image that he presented in his painting. He was capable of giving importance to moments which are simple if seen but holds many messages and memories.
The La Era painting is a raw artwork because the techniques behind are not yet fully polished. Just like any beginner artists, all their artworks are initially made to preserve and keep an important memory or moment visually compared to writers. They try and intend to capture the real image behind. In the long run, they learn to love their work and learn to play with the elements of painting to further emphasize the message of the painting and not to preserve it only. But to Diego Rivera who could make such an artwork at an early age, his painting is far greater than any lad of his age. He is then a potential artist wherein this prediction is true as he made a landmark in the art world.
The elements are unconsciously used appropriately in some ways in the La Era painting. The orientation, space, colors, lines, form, and texture are indeed critical indicators and stressors of the purpose of the art. It was able to intensify the message of different characters in one painting and was able to illustrate the different degrees of importance of each character in the painting. Therefore, the knowledge on utilizing the most of these elements is a crucial part to become a renowned painter.
“Diego Rivera”. 2007. July 19 2007. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diego_Rivera>.
“Diego Rivera (1886-1957)”. 2007. July 19 2007. <http://www.artexpertswebsite.com/pages/artists/rivera.html>.
“Le Era 1904”. 2007. July 19 2007. <http://www.diegorivera.com/gallery/era.html>.
Zacarías, Marela Trejo. “Visual Biography of Diego Rivera”. 2007. July 19 2007. <http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Mll/Spanish/Projects/Trejo-Zacarias/english.htm>.
Figure 1. La Era Painting 1904 by Diego Rivera under Oil in Canvass
at Museo Diego Rivera, Guanajuato, México
(Image Source: “Le Era 1904”. 2007. July 19 2007. <http://www.diegorivera.com/gallery/era.html>)