Rufino Tamayo (1899 - 1991)

Figura prehispánica X. Xipe, Colima (1976)
Prehispanic Figure X. Xipe, Colima

Lithograph on paper
height: 56cm
width: 45.5cm

Donated by the Fundación Olga y Rufino Tamayo 1997


Tamayo's image of the Mesoamerican god Xipe is based on a post-classic figure from Colima in West Mexico. Xipe, a god of spring and new vegetation, was commonly represented in the Prehispanic art of many regions and periods. Tamayo's Xipe wears an elaborate pointed headpiece with four circular disks and raises both arms, similar to the Figura sonriente lithograph in the series. The god's mouth is stretched widely open and the figure's eyes appear to be hollow, perhaps indicating that, like many Xipe figures, this deity is wearing flayed skin as a symbol of regeneration. The lithograph has one of the most pronounced patterns of the series. While the perimeters of the paper are covered in dark textures, a white circular form overlaps the figure, giving it both an added force and mysterious quality. Octavio Paz has described the forms in Tamayo's work as 'The object seen not as an idea or representation but as a field of magnetic forces.' (Paz, 1993: 218)

Octavio Paz, 'From Criticism to Offering.' Essays on Mexican Art. New York : Harcourt Brace, c1993

Terri Geis, 2008

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