Paintings are very important with keeping records of times of old. Times when cameras, cellphones, and other digital devices weren’t available yet. Paintings helped capture a moment and help it live on forever. It can show emotional, and still be factual. It can glorify or demonize its subject. These few attributes are pivotal when analyzing paintings regarding the revolutions of Latin America and their corresponding events. Dreams and nightmares are permanently captured on the canvas for all to see. This paper will focus specifically on the effects of El sueño de la Malinche by Antonio Ruiz and Episodes of the Conquest: Massacre of Cholula by Felix Parra. These two paintings accurately demonstrate the viewpoint of Latin American people during the times of revolution and provide insight to a very turbulent time.
Analyzing the visual nuances, historical significance, can open a window into the social and cultural mindset of the indigenous people of Latin America. La Malinche is a very interesting painting that takes a lot of insight and inferring to find avalid and valuable meaning. By definition, the title of the painting references a woman who waspresent at the Cholula massacre and her dream about her home. This painting, by a Mexican artist engaged in the international movement of Surrealism, represents a slumbering woman named Malinche. Her body serves as the ground supporting an unnamed Mexican community and church, but it is believed to represent the ruins of her hometown Cholula. The slumbering woman who supports the community recalls Aztec beliefs of earth goddesses who uphold life
Pullen 2and support daily life, and it builds on the idea that the past actions of Malinche during the Spanish conquests had built the grounds of the Mexican nation. Furthermore, the lightning above the head of Malinche (demonstrated by the crack in the wall) could allude to the actual tone of her dreams. The violence of the lightning could represent her dreams being violent and almost nightmare-ish. Building upon the idea that she supports the hopes of rebuilding her lost community, “Should she toss or turn—or even awaken—the consequences for the Mexican community resting upon her blanket would be disastrous, ruining everything that was built upon her” (Maria, Painting, The Dream of Malinche).
However, Malinche here is no longer the personage blamed or revendicated by the historians; she is a woman who sleeps calmly. She was once seen as a traitor to the empire and the native people, almost like a translating double-agent who potentially ruined the future of the Aztecs by translating for the Spanish, she was later redeemed after her death and her name was cleared, after historians realized that she wasonly trying to foil and delay other plots of the Spanish, and her true loyslty always was with her homeland of Mexico (La Malinche “Traidora o salvadora del pueblo mejicano”). Her business was never to support the destruction of her home, but rather towards the goal of longevity, which she eventually accomplished. Ruíz’s painting both explicitly and implicitly weaves La Malinche’s cultural significance into the entire history of the development of modern Mexico, immortalizing her importance to the growth of the Latin American nation.
On the other end of Malinches’ peaceful life, lies the brutality painted in one of the episodes of the conquest, and this episode shows great sadness and loss for the native people. In Félix Parra’s Episodes of the Conquest: Massacre of Cholula, the Spanish conquest is not depicted in the context of discovery, but rather in the context of extreme tragedy. Parra
Pullen 3documents the bloody execution of the residents of Cholula by the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortés, who stands proudly at the center as the conqueror of his proud new land. Cholula was an incredible place to so easily conquer, the city “was home to an estimated 100,000 people and was known for a bustling market and for producing excellent trade goods, including pottery. It was best known as a religious center, however. It was home to the magnificent Temple of Tlaloc, which was the largest pyramid ever built by ancient cultures, bigger even than the ones in Egypt” (Minster, Hernan Cortes and the Massacre at Cholula). As Cortés’s men plunder the city of Cholula, exemplified by the figure at the right who greedily examines some valuable artifact, and the remaining victims try to save themselves from the Spanish war machine. A woman to the left leans over her child, possibly dead, in order to reach her deceased husband, who lies on his back with his arms outstretched. It can be compared to the martyred image of Jesus on the cross (Jimenez, The Academy of San Carlos).
He symbolizes to the viewer that the lives lost in the massacre were not forgotten and that although many people we killed in the conquests, there is still hope in the hearts of the natives. The Cholula massacre was one of the most ruthless actions of conquistador Hernan Cortes in his drive to conquer Mexico. The city was in ruins and the temple burned for two days. The Cholula Massacre sent a clear message to Central Mexico: the Spanish were not to be trifled with. The European invaders were seen as one of the most powerful fighting machines the people of Central America had ever seen. There was no stopping their steamrolling of the new world and that made people scared. Even in the painting itself, although there is not a great amount of detail regarding the conquistador who is standing in the center of the frame, you can see that the dead Aztecs and burning buildings around him are all a result of him and his fellow warriors.
Pullen 4The grey skies are the best indicator of a damning presence, symbolizing the fall the Aztec empire. The Conquistadors are seen as a harbinger of death to all the indigenous people of Latin America, and their terror and power are very well symbolized in the perspectives used in the painting. Nobody saw the conquistadors as peaceful settlers or cooperative explorers like they branded themselves but were only viewed as ruthless killers who wanted nothing but the wealth of the people who were there before them. The two paintings reflect a very different outlook on the massacre of Cholula. The Episode of the Conquest heavily details the horrors of the Spanish invaders and the menace known as Hernan Cortes. Numerous signs included in the painting illustrate how the artist viewsthe Spanish. His viewpoint is that of contempt and resentment towards the past actions of foreigners. The injustice has not been forgotten and the Mexican people have not forgotten how their nation was once knocked down and decimated by an explorer. The bleak colors used to paint the grisly scene explain the way.
Although there is not much official documentation from the Aztecs about their thoughts on the derailment of their empire, it is safe to say that theoil painting by Parra accurately conveys their distaste for invaders who have no claim over their land. This distrust and strong dislike for the new rulers of Latin America was carried for centuries and was likely used as a reason for the native people to rally to a revolution to earn their independence from the Spanish. The actions of past explorers stuck with the hearts of the indigenous people and acted as a point of reference for motivation to kick out the Spanish occupation. On the other hand, the actions of Malinche were seen as an important starting place for the fire that started the same revolution. She showed that there was still loyalty and hope for the people of Mexico and surrounding countries, that their spirits were never broken,
Pullen 5and that there was a desire to be free. The warm blues and yellows of El Sueno symbolize the love of country, and how the fate of Mexico could easily have rested entirely on Malinche, and that the community wanted to build on her desire to be free someday, and that her dream could be more than just a dream. The paintings depicting the Cholula massacre and Malinche are relevant to almost the same time in Mexican history, but demonstrate very different values of the original indigenous people of Mexico, and the details within the paintings reveal the struggle of the Aztecs in the past, and how they looked forward to the future. The significance of these two works of art cannot be understated when analyzing the hearts and minds of the people of ancient Latin America.