Tres Musicos de Nahualá
(Three Musicians from Nahualá)
9" x 12", oil on canvas.

Lorenzo Gonzalez Chavajay

Lorenzo wrote about this painting:

"Tres personas, se componen una Chirimilla, uno llevando el Tambor, y el otro tocando, y tambien el tercero tocando Pito, con traje de Nahuala."

"Three people make up this group, one carrying a drum and another playing it, with the third person playing a chirimilla [flute].

The musicians in the painting have stopped near the shore of Lake Atitlán to play for the viewer. Two of men, the one carrying and the other playing the drum, seem to look intently into the viewer’s eye. They wear the heavy dark wool wrap around skirts typical of the men of Nahualá which being higher in altitude is much colder than the towns on the shore of the lake.

Musicians used to travel around Guatemala, walking with their instruments to various towns and performing for people. Lorenzo once explained to me that these paintings are little memories of events in his life. Lorenzo lived before the Pan American highway was completed and it was customary for people to walk to other towns. The walks were not easy as the region is very mountainous, and so it would have been a memorable event when some of these musicians arrived. The walk from Nahuala would have taken at least half a day.

The day I bought "Tres Musicos" I had also bought a major work by Matias Gonzalez Chavajay, Palo Volador, and had that on the wall to my room, but my eye kept going to "Tres Musicos" which was leaning against the wall beneath the larger more ambitious painting. In spite of it's small size it is a very strong painting. Perhaps one element is the eyes. The three musicians are gazing intently at the viewer, and demand a response.