Walking through the streets of downtown Mérida is also to walk through its history and stumble upon lovely gems like the Pinacoteca “Juan Gamboa Guzmán” museum, located on Calle 59 between 60 and 58 in a building that once belonged to the Jesuits and which now exhibits paintings from the colonial era to the 19th C. Remember that before there were photographs, the painting was the vehicle to capture historical moments, and we can find much of Yucatan’s pictorial art in this space.
Inaugurated in 1981, the Pinacoteca has a room for temporary exhibits, and in September it wiill be “The Portrait and the Symbols of Power” with a selection of 25 works from its own heritage collection. In the words of its director Mtro. Eduardo Sigler Islas, the exhibit presents paintings of important figures with the common theme of “power”, highlighting those in the religious field and their investiture, swords and medals from the military, and other elements from civil life. It’s a collection which will help the visitor to appreciate the pictorial art from the 18th and 19th centuries from another perspective.
Continuing our tour through the rooms, we come to the one which is dedicated to Juan Gamboa Guzmán (1853-1892), Yucatecan painter who studied in France, author of the piece “Heavenly Music”, considered the best painting in Yucatán of the 19th C., which is displayed along with “Carnival Idol”, “The Union”, pencil sketches, and personal objects. In this room you can also see the red confessional; as a curious fact, in the center of this room, there is an interesting echo effect in this space where the Jesuits used to go to confession.
The next room is dedicated to Gabriel Vicente Gahona “Picheta”, important precursor of engraving in this country and teacher of Juan Gamboa. His engravings are displayed, a reproduction of the magazine Don Bullebulle, and a lithographic press which is assumed to be the one he used, for it is identical to one which appears in one of his engravings.
In order to reach the next room, you must climb a flight of stairs that will allow you to appreciate a bit more of the building and its picture windows. There you will find “The Bronze Maya” with more than 30 pieces made by the part-Austrian Enrique Gottdiener, inspired by representative scenes of Maya women and men, maternity, the goddess Ixchel, and his most well known work, El Hechicero (the sorceror). It’s an astonishing exhibit.
Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm, the Pinacoteca offers a different look at colonial art. Entry is 39 pesos.
By: Violeta H. Cantarell
With information from INAH & Conaculta
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