Perla Beatriz Bajder (1946 - )

Untitled (1996)

Linocut on card
height: 14cm
width: 10cm

Donated by Valerie Fraser 2001


Perla Bajder produced this small print to illustrate an edition of the short story 'Semos Malos' by El Salvadorian author Salarrué (1899 - 1975; b. Salvador Efraín Salazar Arrué). Salarrué is considered to be one of El Salvador's best writers and his writing reveals a great affinity with the country's peasant population. The title of the story translates as 'We are bad' in the guajira or 'peasant' language of El Salvador.

This story tells of Goyo Cuestas and his son; seeking to make their fortune in a country where 'money abounds' and the gramophone is unknown they decide to go to Honduras weighed down with a gramophone and a box of records. After trekking through forests and mud for several days, a priest warns them to be aware of thieves and advises them to hide in the mountains. But here they are found and stabbed to death by four bandits. Having stolen the gramophone, the murdering bandits make for an abandoned ranch. They play the records and, as the music stirs them into realisation of what they have done, they weep, concluding that 'they are bad'.

In this illustration, one of the thieves emerges threateningly from the image's blank border, pointing a knife at Cuestas, who has the gramophone strapped across his chest. The jagged movement and semi-disguised appearance of the bandit capture the tension and confusion of the moment of attack; fear clearly shows on the faces of Cuestas and his son as they lean away from the bandit in terror.

'Semos Malos' was first published in 1933 in a collection of short stories entitled Cuentos de Barro. This image was made for a limited edition published in 1995 by Editorial Cesar Palui (Buenos Aires). In the course of her career Bajder has illustrated several other literary works. Another example of her illustration - for 'Y con los ojos cerrados gimio mi pecho', a poem by Octavio Paz - is also held by ESCALA.

Joanne Harwood, 2008

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