Mexican Folk Art Featured Painting: Saint Michael Slaying the Dragon
- 21 April 2012 by admin 0 Comments
Mexican Folk Art
Mexican Painter Raymundo Gonzalez
“And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
Mexican Folk Art Religious Themes
In his painting, “Saint Michael Slaying the Dragon,” Mexican painter Raymundo Gonzalez delves deeply into the Catholic and Native Indian cultures of his world.
The painting depicts the archangel Michael, known in Catholic tradition as “Saint Michael,” clad in the armor of a warrior. And this makes sense, for the angel Michael is traditionally viewed as the leader of the army of God that will defeat the forces of Satan in the end times.
In the painting, Saint Michael wears a crown of royalty along with his armor. In his right hand is his terrible sword and in his left hand, scales of justice. The battle played out on the canvas is one of cosmic scale. The planets and stars glitter in the background, while the great serpent/dragon who is Satan is placed under Michael in defeat. He is being pushed down into the realm of the fires of hell.
Raymundo Gonzalez Puts a Painting in a Painting
And yet, this scene is itself only a tableau. There is a painting within a painting. The scene of battle sits upon a bed of vines that lovingly surround it. These are the vines we see so often in Gonzalez’s paintings. Flowers grow in the vines. We almost feel the reality of how Catholicism and the traditions of the native peoples have merged in Mexico. Nature, represented by the vines, has provided a place for the ancient Catholic tradition of Saint Michael’s apocalyptic battle.
It is a matter of some debate among scholars just how much of the Saint Michael tradition is authentically Christian and how much of it draws upon earlier, pagan traditions. But this is the beauty of Mexican culture. The melding of Catholicism and paganism has produced the beauty and color of the Mexican religious landscape. Raymundo Gonzalez’s work often brings us to the place where the deep waters of religion and culture meet.