Wifredo Lam: “The Jungle” 1943

The uniqueness of Latin American culture as a whole is the fusion of its countries’ traditions as a result of a mixture of races. In fact, Caucasian invaders of the continent interbred with Native American Indians, Jewish traders and merchants who found a better trade on its shores lived there and interbred with Indians, Spanish colonials and Brazilians who imported blacks from Africa as slaves interbreed with the white masters and also with the Indians. Besides, there was the Asian influx of Chinese and Filipinos (who were Spanish processions), and a massive Japanese immigration to Brazil that led to making Sao Paulo one of the largest Japanese cities in the world. As a result, this hybridization created a vital, original and surprising art throughout the continent’s history making it more unified than hybridized.

Wifredo Lam “The jungle” 1943.
In a hybrid Latin American culture of Caucasian, Indians, Spanish, Black Africans, Chinese, Japanese and “Indigenismo”, Lam’s Jungle portrays human, animal and vegetable. A communication of a physic state with a different angle towards Latin American culture; not the typical one. Together these elements obliquely address the history of slavery in colonial Cuba.”My idea was to represent the spirit of the Cuban negroes in the situation they were then”. Lam himself is a hybrid of a Chinese father who lived his life in Cuba, his mother a mulatto with American Indian blood. Lam learnt about rites inherited from black Cubans from their African forebears.

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