Academia, the art of the great old masters that he studied at the Prado, in particular Greco, Velasquez, Poussin, Brueghel, Goya and Bosch, or even the teachings of Julio Moises’s Escuela Libre de Paijase and the friendships he made with the painters of Madrid’s avant-garde such as Salvador Dali, Benjamin Palencia or Francisco Bores.
In 1925, with the arrival of General Machado in Cuba, Lam lost his funding and was thrown into a period of great financial difficulty. He survived with difficulty, painting academic portraits of the Spanish aristocracy he had met through Sotomayor. Touched by the severity of his poverty, the mother of his friend Fernando Rodriguez Munoz invited him to spend the summer of 1925 in their house in Cuenca, a small medieval town situated South East of Madrid. Upon his arrival, Lam started a series of four works for the Munoz family, all painted in 1925: the present painting, Judio, Sol, Mujeres and El cuerno de la abundancia. Painted in large format and shimmering colours, on salvaged canvas he found in the village, these works reveal the undeniable influence of artists such as Anglada Camarasa but also the budding Art Deco movement. Judio (Indio con el buho) also shows inspiration from oriental tales and the Russian ballet, depicting a preciousness and exuberance of painted detail. These four paintings testify to the friendship between Wifredo Lam and Fernando Rodriguez Munoz, and have remained in the latter’s family ever since.
The summer of 1925 was particularly important for Lam. Having left the Munoz house, he set up his small studio in Cuenca with a Catalan painter Jaume Serra Aleu, and this new life was a powerful source of inspiration: the beauty of the landscapes and the poverty of the peasants in this region inspired him to paint a few superb works and to renew his style, revealing thus a glimpse of the modernity of his future canvases.
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