Manuel González Serrano

Sandía y caracol, ca. 1945

Oleo / cartón
25.5 x 35.5 cm

Like The Offering, also by González Serrano, with which it shares certain formal properties, especially in the application of paint, this still life is utterly straightforward. Again, three objects are placed on a wooden table, or perhaps directly on the floor: a large conch shell, set on its spiraling end; a chunk of overripe watermelon; and one or more pieces of bleached coral, which seem to emerge and grow from the space between the fruit and the shell. The curving forms of shells, slices of watermelon, and coral all appear in later works by the artist, where they function as part of a complex inventory of symbols. But rather than searching here for a hidden metaphoric language, it might be more useful to note how this early painting enters into a dialogue with his contemporaries. Rufino Tamayo practically converted the open watermelon into a signature device from the 1920s on. Large seashells appear in works by Tamayo, María Izquierdo, and even David Alfaro Siqueiros, in each case redolent with sexual allusions but also formally compelling in and of themselves. At the start of his career as a painter, perhaps González Serrano was appropriating elements already deemed worthy of inclusion in a Mexican still life.

Vid. James Oles, Arte Moderno de México. Colección Andrés Blaisten, México, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2005.

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