Rigoberto Gonzalez is a contemporary Mexican artist who relies on some of the same techniques as Caravaggio, such as a striking realism and tenebrism.
His focus on violence (the violence of the Mexican drug trade) is also similar to Caravaggio’s focus on violence (the violence of martyrdom). We can become quite uncomfortable in front of Gonzalez’s work…they are big paintings, the figures are lifesize, and we don’t want to see what’s happening (or has happened). They allow us to understand the shock of Caravaggio’s work for his contemporary audience. They didn’t always want to see life and death as he presented it. When you visit Gonzalez’s site, view the short video “Baroque on the Border,” where the artist talks about his work.
I lived in Mexico for 3 years and based on the stories I’ve heard, this painting is a very accurate description of the drug-trading world. I like this painting because it very blantantly depicts what many people only read about in newspapers but cannot visualize for themselves.
I agree with Caroline in that the artist does not hold back in his blunt statement of the modern struggles in Mexico. It not only depicts the cruel conditions, but forces the viewers to think more deeply about the matter. The very dark colors and shadows, in addition to the size of the work, enhances the horrific scene.
When the baroque style of art came to be popularized in the 17th century, the exaggerated and deeply stylized subjects that are represented are “pleasing to the eye”, or aesthetically pleasing. In Rigoberto Gonzalez’s pieces, violent scenes are ornate in detail and emotion. I am astonished at the degree to which this style of art has been preserved. Because of the fluid nature of this style, the baroque characteristics can be applied to all different scenes, such as Rigoberto Gonzalez’s works that depict gruesome and terrible actions of killing or torture. I appreciate Gonzalez’s success in painting in the baroque style, in order to preserve the techniques and shed light on the theme of border violence.