The other day we visited one of my favourite museums, Museo Blanes in Montevideo, where currently showing is a survey exhibition covering almost almost 60 years of the drawings with paint on paper and canvas of Lacy Duarte (dec. 2015) Someone coined the word pintujos, combining parts of the spanish words pinturas=paintings and dibujos=drawings to describe these mixed media works.. Lacy Duarte was born in rural northern Uruguay, in the border zone with Brasil, and all her life retained her strong roots though lived for a time in Porto Allegre Brasil, Maldonado UY and later Montevideo after the death of her painter husband. Her creative life began with painting, she learned and practised weaving, taught drawing and eventually re-focused on painting – with drawings, in collage-like constructions, these pintujos. She carved wood and other materials, and used fabric+stitch on small sculptures of rural animals and often human figures or dolls.
Fabric is also part of these collages, in the form of what would have been originally rubbings of clothing and now printed by some technique so they occur as repeated motifs of parts of garments of textures that indicate strong durable fabrics, none of them suggesting femininity. I was interested in the brush marks on these pintujos suggesting stitch, holding the fabric of everything together, perhaps. Duarte apparently struggled with the courage required of women to survive in the poor, very macho uruguayan rural environment .
Pintujo, Lacy Duarte
Detail, pintujo, Lacy Duarte
The slightly slumped female figure with sagging shoulders and untidy hair is an interesting symbol for her concerns. Prints of it it appear often in her work (pics 1, 2, and in the 3rd pic down, the head has been torn off the body and placed elsewhere – hinting at the psycho-social issues she felt keenly. Of the armadillo-related creature, the mulita, Lacy wrote “En el campo,cuando agarran una mulita, el animal inmediatamente junta sus manos y queda indefenso, pero tiene un cascaron que le permite sobrevivir; mi identificacion es por al cascaron que me hi tenido que armar para la sobrevivencia.” Roughly translated this reads “In the field, when they grab a mulita, the animal immediately gathers its hands and is helpless, but has a shell that allows it to survive; my identification is by the shell that I had to grow for my survival.” (in the macho, poorer, uruguayan country side.) The mulita appears a number of times in the works of this show, as does the woman I mentioned, and a woman, a child and some small creature riding horseback (to school?) is repeated many times too. The horse’s head on the broomstick appears often, too, and maybe it has an additional symbolic meaning beyond being a popular childhood toy anyone can afford or make. As Lacy herself carved, it might have been something she made for her own sons.