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Monday, January 2, 2012

Stupidity at Work: Wanton Destruction

Among the recent news from my country is the wanton, stupid, and senseless destruction of La Armonía de mi Pueblo (My People's Harmony), the mural created by Salvadoran artist Fernando Llort that up until 30th December, 2011, graced the National Cathedral's frontispiece in downtown San Salvador — what many nowadays call the Centro Histórico.
Llort is a contemporary of mine (or I one of his, if you'd rather prefer it that way) but as far as my recollection goes we have never been personally acquainted. We did at one time (late '60s, early '70s) have many common acquaintances, as both his art and my work had us in touch with many of the same people in the Salvadoran cultural scene.
What Llort started back in the early '70s in La Palma (at the time some dismissed it as just another hippy experiment, I kid you not) grew over the years, both domestically and abroad, into one of the better known Salvadoran artistic expressions — if not the most and for some the only known one.
Even if they have never heard of Nando Llort (his website is here) millions of Salvadorans (and hundreds of thousands of foreigners, I am sure) know his work. If you have ever bought a wooden key or a t-shirt decorated with naïf Salvadoran images, chances are that you have a Llort-inspired work in hand.
Whether you approve or disapprove of the mural — La Toallona (The Beach Towel), is how many still nickname the now destroyed artwork — there is no question that it was the maximum expression of Llort's lifework. A national artistic treasure. (Plenty of information, in Spanish, about the mural's obliteration and the lies and justifications around it can be found on
Indignados por El Mural here). Both pictures above are taken from the Indignados page: the mural as it was, with the heaps of recognition by the Roman Catholic hierarchy below.
The mural's name itself, the fact that it was created in celebration of the Peace Accords that in 1992 put an end to an armed conflict that wreaked havoc in the country, that (as the artist himself declared at one time) it was also in remembrance and homage to the murdered Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, would probably make you think that somebody with an ounce of decency would have taken pains to make sure that it would be treated with the respect it rightfully deserved.
Think again.

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