The colorful faÃ§ades throughout La Antigua Guatemala are like
canvases left outdoors. Nature destroys them, and time transforms
the surfaces into abstract and impressionistic formations. Old walls
become short-lived works of art. Color and texture from the past
create a sort of present-day graffiti until repairs and a fresh coat of
paint wipe away the shapes and patterns. It is an ever-changing
public display of peeling paint and crumbling adobe. The
compositions are visually articulate and as much part of the cityscape
as the monuments and ruins.
This unique genre is the subject of Huellas/Imprints. The
photographs reinterpret the creative force of time and nature
as painterly and contemporary images.
Click on images of photographs for details:
La Antigua Guatemala. Text by M. A. Bello. Watercolor illustrations by N. Clement.
Northampton, MA: arteBELLO, 2005. 32 pages.
The city of La Antigua Guatemala is many things to different people. To AntigÃ¼eÃ±os, it is home. The cobblestone streets and architectural ruins are their birthright. They inherit a place semi-frozen in time and become guardians of its history. Guatemaltecos, in general, also share this sense of stewardship. The colonial city is for them a source of tremendous national pride. Antigua is a common destination of school trips and family outings. It is a place for special events and celebrations. Holy Week observances, in particular, are famous and reflect the countryâ€™s religious fervor. Visitors from around the world, too, are drawn to the city. For some, the lure of Antigua proves irresistible. They simply stay and remain under its spell, making themselves at home.
What makes Antigua such a special place? Its natural beauty, for one, is part of the attraction. Located at nearly a mile high in the Panchoy Valley of the highlands, the city is surrounded by three imposing volcanoes: Agua to the south, Acatenango and Fuego to the west. Their soaring presence looms over Antigua. Climate is another factor. The city is favored with spring-like weather all year-round. History and architecture, however, are Antiguaâ€™s strong suit. As capital of an area covering Central America and Chiapas during the Spanish colonial period, the city is unchallenged for its former political power and cultural influence. Present-day Antigua is recognized as both a national monument and one of UNESCOâ€™s World Heritage Sites.
A museum-city is a fragile environment, and Antigua is no exception. The demands of modern life threaten its very existence. Nature, however, has been Antiguaâ€™s worst enemy. The city has been destroyed by earthquakes several times over the centuries. It has been rebuilt and repaired each time. Consequently, resisting damage is a major concern of construction in Antigua and accounts for many of its massive and solid structures.
There is no definitive Antigua. The magic and romance associated with the city is basically a state of mind. Antigua is always in transition according to the dreams of its current residents. The sheer force of nature, the reality of that imminent danger, creates a sense of urgency in the city and an appreciation for life [â€¦]