David Alfaro Siqueiros 1896 - 1974
- David Alfaro Siqueiros
- Incendio al atardecer (Fire at Dusk)
signed and dated 57 lower right
- oil on masonite
- 127 x 58.4 cm
Gift of the above, 1996
Siqueiros did not paint from nature. He often used photography for his compositions; many of his landscapes exhibit a perspective that derives from a collection of aerial views he purchased from a specialized survey company. The use of a higher vantage point can be interpreted as an allegory of the artist as visionary, a privileged member of society, a modern shaman of sorts, who is able to "see" more and farther and thus guide the steps of the people.
Siqueiros consistently used elements of the landscape as a metaphor. Active volcanoes in many of his paintings were not only geographic features, but they served as potent symbols of the destructive fury and renewing power of nature; the symbol of the power of a revolutionary society change the established order. This is most likely the underlying theme of Incendio al atardecer.
An organized crowd has reached a mountain top and extends out of the painting at the foreground. From this height, these persons are witnessing a spectacular burst of fire on the horizon. The painting is equally divided in two: the brown land with scattered buildings or cities and the crowd in the middle ground who mirror the fires, rocks and ashes, obscuring the sky. Interestingly, upon closer examination, it would seem that the crowd is celebrating in joy as they extend their arms and as they rush to find a place to observe the phenomenon from the exiguous plateau. Could this imaginary landscape be interpreted as the representation of the joy of being part of the revolutionary process? It is perhaps the "old order" that is being engulfed in the darkness of the night while a new dawn shades its first lights upon the advancing masses.