After his reintegration in Cuba in 1942 and subsequent mystery-laden paintings such as The Jungle, Mofumbo Obiní, Le Present Eternel, and others, Wifredo obviously had found his authentic style and symbolic language.
His inspiration gushed forth effortlessly, breathing magic, fused with nature's esoteric credos, his imagination seemed to have no frontiers. In his paintings, the exquisite drawing was intensified by densely or barely colored "empty" spaces so giving volume and depth to the work.
In Forêt Tropicale, a ceremonial offering seems about to take place. Against the background of tropical vegetation, leaves and fruits, a powerful mythical two-horned beast, its arched tail indicating alertness, scrutinizes its surroundings. The elongated snout seems eager to slurp up whatever fluids, secretions, smells will come its way. From its back hangs a basket-like structure ending in a long dangling stalk of a banana flower. The basket is filled with corn. Protruding from thin arms two hands -one vertical, one horizontal- rest on the beast's back. One third hand upheld in the lower left area seems to advise caution.
Directly below this hand in a dish is the figure of Eleggua, the orisha guardian, protector of the solemnity of the ceremony to follow. Its help may well be needed. Too many invisible creatures abound in the woods and all of them -even the bird in the upper left- with a heavy belly and spines on its tail, seem in awe of coming events.
The fear of dangers from unknown powers is universal and timeless, the terror deep-seated. Placatory offerings in exchange for protection abound in all beliefs. The ceremony can begin!
Helena H. Benitez
Saarbrücken, August 1996