Mulato and Mestizo

From Mirada Global, an appreciation of two "geniuses of poetry and art," Nicolás Guillén and Osvaldo Guayasamín:

Nicolás Guillén was born in Camaguey, Cuba, in 1902, while Osvaldo Guayasamín was born in Quito, Ecuador, in 1919. It isn’t trivial to get to know their origins, their ancestors, in order to develop the title of these lines.

Guillén, whose mother and father were black people, tries to vindicate his race through his poetry, but not the easy way. He does it through the cultural approach, from an ethical outlook. This is particularly so in his work Motivos del Son. Later, when he publishes Sóngoro Cosongo, some scholars tried to classify him as a “black poet” or “black poetry”… the truth is that what he proposes in his poems is a language “from the blacks” “to the blacks”, in order to determine their own role in Cuban culture and show us their contribution to this culture. Race is intertwined to his ancestors almost as a thematic concept and even an ideological one....

Guayasamín, born from an Indian father and a mestiza mother, symbolizes according to himself, the struggle of this kind of ambiguity, which is not fully accepted; the mestizo, who is neither white nor Indian. His work, especially in his first stage, always came from his own roots. Even more, a great part of his work was a declaration of indigenous humanism. It is a known fact that there are three stages in this great painter’s creative path: “The Road of Tears”, “The Age of Wrath” and “The Age of Tenderness”. Despite the fact that in the last part of his life —until his death— he worked in a monumental work which was to be left in the center of the world: The Chapel of Man, where once more, he returns to his roots.


Also available in Spanish.

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