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“My painting is not simply a way of painting. Rather, it is a way of seeing, thinking, feeling.”

On Pedro Figari's 'naive' style

Oct 9, 2018

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Pedro Figari

Claude Monet

In this series, the curatorial team presents one work from the Meural art library we find essential. (See all installments.) This week’s pick comes as part of our coverage of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Dia de TrillaPedro Figari
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This charming painting, in which couples dance before fresh mounds of recently harvested wheat, bathed in the light of a low pink moon, had me briefly in mind of Monet’s famous haystacks series. But only briefly. For we are a long way from France in this sunset scene, which is alive with the sounds of celebration—of drinks being poured and toasts being made; of feet moving rhythmically through the dusty field floor to the melody of an old country song.

The painter, Pedro Figari, was no stranger to Monet’s work, and that of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists more generally, having lived in Paris as a young man in the late 19th century. However, it was not until the 1920s, after an illustrious legal and political career in Uruguay, that Figari devoted himself to the canvas. And he did so at a time when prominent artists in Latin America were eager to forge their own creative identity, distinct from European traditions.

El PericónPedro Figari
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It was in this context that Figari developed his unique, deeply personal, ‘naive’ style—painting mostly from memory and depicting scenes from his childhood as well as local customs, myths, and celebrations. In doing so, he became an important force in defining a new Latin American artistic culture: “My painting is not simply a way of painting. Rather, it is a way of seeing, thinking, feeling.”

Poppy Simpson, Head of Curation

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