Symbolic Landscape Diego Rivera Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Symbolic Landscape is a surrealistic scene painted by the most influential Mexican artist of the 20th century, Diego Rivera.

The setting is in the outskirts of Taxco. Taxco is a mining region located in central Mexico. Diego Rivera had frequently visited this area a few years before he painted this mural. This oil on canvas painting measuring 121.6 cm by 152.72 cm was created in the year 1940. Diego became quite saddened following his divorce with longtime lover and fellow artist Frida Kahlo. The Symbolic Landscape portrays a very poetic view of the situation via symbols of the natural landscape.

A fallen tree emerges from the right foreground of the painting and bends its way through to the center middle ground of the painting. The tree takes the shape of a woman’s upper body with her backside bent inwards. The tree bark is really smooth. It runs unaltered up to the very bottom where its rough underside can be seen. The tree is surrounded by jagged and irregular stone all around. The stone bears resemblance to numerous shapes that include the shape of a man’s face and that of firmly clasped fists. On the face-shaped stone lie two items that are very symbolic. The glove made of leather and a blood-stained knife that is partially covered with a wedding band seem to indicate a bad deed. These two objects appear to be unbefitting of this otherwise ordinary landscape. A full moon is present in the right background of the painting watching over this surrealist scene.

Rivera’s art style was unique. He made the painting of murals his primary technique because he appreciated its large-scale nature and accessibility. Diego Rivera used university walls and other public buildings all over the United States and Mexico as his canvas. This helped restore interest in the mural as a form of art. It also helped in reinventing the notion of public art in the United States. Diego Rivera’s art mainly focused on Mexican history and culture using a strong style. On many occasions, he flattened three-dimensional elements into two dimensions. Mexicanidad is a style of art which Rivera is attributed to have founded. It uses Mexican heritage and culture as well as strong, broad imagery and can appear in mural form.