The painting on the previous page is an example of what is known as primitive
or naive art. Folk art of this type occurs throughout the world and Nicaraguan
folk art has recently become much admired. Below is a summary of an article
on the subject, by Porfirio Garcia Romano, "El primitivismo en la década
de los años sententa," that appeared in the Nicaraguan newspaper,
El Neuvo Diaro, on October 17, 1998. The summary of this article was prepared
by Ovide Bastien.
Otra Llegada by Oscar Mairena.
In the 1970's, under the leadership of Ernesto Cardenal, priest, poet and
former Minister of Culture in the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, a group
of fishermen and campesinos developed a school of painting that became known
as Escuela Primitivista de Solentiname. This form of art has now achieved
The school started when Ernesto Cardenal, while travelling in the area for
the first time, observed one of the local residents drawing a cup. Impressed
by his talent, Cardenal supplied him with paper and coloured pencils. Later,
he had the noted Nicaraguan painter, Roger Pérez de la Rocha, travel
to the area to teach the local people some painting techniques.
By 1974 the campesinos and fishermen of the archipelago of Solentiname were
busy painting scenes taken from their daily lives. These paintings were soon
exposed in art galleries in Managua, New York, Paris and elsewhere.
Besides depicting their lifestyle and values, the painters incorporated a
religious current that had a deep impact on them: liberation theology. For
example, the painting of Gloria Guevara, "Cristo Guerillero," drawn
in 1975, depicts a saviour who is oppressed, like the people with whom he
is identified, and who acts, from below, as their liberator. Painting, fighting
against oppression and practicing their religion, melt into one unique reality.
Between religion and revolution, the distance disappeared.
Christo Guerillero by Gloria Guevara.
* Both images are from E. Cardenal, Tocar el cielo, (Poesías
illustrado con pinturas de Solentiname y fotografías del nuevo Nicaragua),
Managua: Editorial Nueva Nicaragua, Ediciones Monimbó, nd.