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Saturday Volcano Art: Tigua painting from Ecuador 31 October 2009

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Tigua painting from Ecuador

The Tigua people of Ecuador live in a rural area south-west of the capital, Quito, high in the valleys of the Andes. Their colourful and distinctive paintings depict scenes of communal life: festivals, markets, farming, daily activities. The volcano Cotopaxi presides over many of these pictures, symbolizing the spirit of the Ecuadorian landscape.

These paintings occupy that shifting and ambigous territory of cultural production in which indigenous artistic creativity depends for its sustenance upon tourist patronage, but they do represent a genuine pictorial tradition, not merely a commodified fabrication. Every part of the picture is filled with colour and life, and naive-seeming but complex tricks of perspective and distortion are used to draw the viewer into the landscape and bring order to the tumult of incident depicted. Tigua art conveys joy, lushness and life: it brims with vibrancy and colour, and conveys the spirit of the volcanic landscapes of the high Andes, and of those who live among them, beautifully.

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