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David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974)
David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974)


David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974)
signed and dated '1965' (lower right)
pyroxylin on panel
31 ½ x 23 ¾ in. (80. x 60 cm.)
Painted in 1965.
Galería Acquavella, Caracas.
Acquired from the above.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's New York 19 November 2003, lot 6 (illustrated in color).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

Lot Essay

We are grateful to Prof. Irene Herner Reiss for her assistance cataloguing this work.

Siqueiros’s fascination for the telluric and the sublime power of nature, connects his art with the volcanic studies of Dr. Atl. The two artists especially shared a panoramic vision and their diverse aerial perspectives which Siqueiros employed in his renderings of rocks, hills, rocky landscapes, valleys, and above all, in his fascination with lava. Siqueiros’s goal was the representation of volcanic explosions but it was not just about creating a naturalistic rendering, but rather executing a composition replete with symbolism and rhythm. Fire—its very image should be moving, it should spew its boiling light and pull the viewer’s eye towards it. Such is the case with Bosque de Llamas (1956), painted from a vertiginous perspective, it is an airy and panoramic view of a portentous eruption.

In the present work from 1965, Siqueiros re-visited the perspective from Bosque en Llamas, but this time from a frontal viewpoint. The latter is consistent with his desire to be close to nature, so near that any closer would mean death. He renders a close-up of the mountain at the moment of its creation through fire, which is depicted as a scalding whirlwind from which white embers surge and burn while morphing into rocks. But Siqueiros cannot simply adhere to the abstract, or even pure nature, the human form, always finds a place in his work. If one observes the explosion, between the reds and yellows, a pair of eyes and nose are revealed. As viewers we can then reconstruct the body and monstrous head of an animal-like yet human devil.

In works such as this, Siqueiros demonstrates his expressionistic side, full of emotional impact as well as his physical relation to colors and textures. Additionally, he renders forms in a manner he considers realistic; taking great liberties, and filling the space with dancing forms and varied color combinations. These are multilayered images that Siqueiros painted since his apocalyptic works from the 1930s while he was in New York. Siqueiros never stopped experimenting and his paintings are always exercises in “controlled accidents,” such as arranging trickling and drips of color from paint cans, generating surprising combinations and forms that he would further animate with his strokes, mixing colors with sticks, and air guns. Similar details may be found in the present work where a universe of stains, scratches, calligraphy, small figures, and even brushstrokes, converge to create a strictly painterly ludic display.

An excerpted text by Irene Herner with the collaboration of Grecia Pérez and Mónica Ruiz


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