Rufino Tamayo (1899-1991)
- Rufino Tamayo
- Hombre perseguido
- signed and dated O-56 upper right
- oil and mixed media on masonite
Sale: Christie's, New York, Important 19th and 20th Century Latin American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, May 5, 1981, lot 37, illustrated in color
Lee Ault, New Canaan
Galerias Iturbide, Mexico City
Sale: Christie's, New York, Important Latin American Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture, and Prints, November 16, 1994, lot 16, illustrated in color
Juan García Ponce, Tamayo, Mexico City, 1967, illustrated
Ramón Gutiérrez and Rodrigo Gutiérrez Viñuales, Historia del Arte Latinoamericano, Barcelona, 2000, p. 304, illustrated in color
A few years before painting Hombre Perseguido (The Hunted Man) in 1956, Tamayo was still strongly defending the subject matter of his painting and his innovative painting techniques. While men, women and children in different activities were the principal topic of his carefully crafted compositions, the color and rich matter of his paintings became a field of open metaphors and vast visual pleasure. In an interview with Juan B. Climent in 1951, Tamayo said, "I am against political painting although I believe that certain important things can be done and have been done in that field. However, I demand [from others] something I consider basic: let’s not forget about the [intrinsic] quality of the painting.” 2
Although his professional career was at its height and the comments about the nature of his art were less virulent, it is possible to give an interpretation to this painting in the context of that endless and sometimes sterile confrontation. What do we see in Hunted Man? We see the geometric figure of a man running towards us with open arms, emerging from an informal, dark reddish and purple background. His right foot, the closer element to the viewer, is struck by light. The man is being chased by a small muzzled creature with broad white eyes lurking in the back. The running man seems to be dressed with metallic protective armor. He bears a paint brush in his left hand and a palette in the shape of a fan in his right hand. Instead of exuding anguish, the chase has left an ironic flat smile on his face, as if nothing particularly stressful is happening at all. As in many other paintings by Tamayo, we believe that the artist is making an ironic statement: it is as if the figure were a self-representation of Tamayo happily escaping from the shades of a suffocating artistic environment, harassed by a harmless little monster—perhaps a metaphor for the group of political painters—finally reaching the light and freedom, with the right foot.
1 In “Tres ensayos sobre Rufino Tamayo,” Los privilegios de la vista II: arte de México, México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1995, p. 283.
2 In “¡Tamayo se rebela!: Rufino Tamayo, ‘Cuarto grande’ de la pintura mexicana se subleva en un vibrante mensaje artístico,” Mañana: La revista de México, No. 411, July 14, 1951, p. 49.