Diego Pop Ajuchán: Divinación / Fortunetelling. 1957. 10" x 12." AJU-001. Unstretched.

I acquired this painting on eBay. The seller thought it might be a painting by Juan Sisay because of the letter. The letter, which said Diego Pop Ajuchán had not been able to finish the painting in a timely manner because Juan Sisay was sick, just confused me. Was Juan Sisay painting under another name? That was something other Tz’utuhil artists had done if it could earn them money.

About five years later a man contacted me with a painting by Juan Sisay. It turned out to be the same image, and that clarified what had occurred. Ajuchán was Juan Sisay’s student. The way Tz’utuhil artists taught their students was by having them copy exactly a small painting the master was doing. That way the student learned everything, from drawing to mixing colors and applying the paint. That is still the way the younger artists learn. [See Sisay's painting at bottom of page.]

[Right:] Juan Sisay’s painting which he had his student Diego Pop Ajuchán copy. There is a stool in Sisay’s painting that is not in Pop Ajuchán’s; there art two candles in Sisay’s painting, one in Pop Ajuchán’s, and the rim of the bowl is different, visually incorrect in the painting of the student.

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Email: joseph at artemaya dot com