Harriet Macaree, “Noche Oaxaqueña”

“Noche Oaxaqueña”, painting, 2019.

Materials: acrylic on canvas.

Dimensions: 117cm x 148cm x 2cm

Learn more about Harriet Macaree at www.harrietmacaree.com

Artist’s comment: This painting is one of a series of vivid memories of Mexico, the country I fell in love with when I won a UNAM / British Council Painting Scholarship from 1980 to 1982, and spent a decade living and working in Oaxaca, Merida, La Paz BCS, Tehuacan and Puebla. My work moved from organically abstracted paintings of heat, form and colour in fertile tropical landscapes, to expressionistic responses to people in the towns and villages I lived in. I became a great admirer of the creativity, originality, inventiveness and charm of the Mexican people, their poetry and legends, their ancient gods, cultures and pyramids, their arts and crafts, their innate sense of colour. I met and lived amongst a wide variety of people in all walks of life- I encountered much poverty, but also a spirit of survival, an ability to enjoy the moment. The dominating factor I found everywhere was a deep capacity for feeling, a heightened sense of romance, a passion for music and dance, a natural feel for colour, and an intense love of life. From telenovelas and comic books, to mariachis, Yucatecan cantantes, the giggling flirtations of teenagers and the serious affairs of their elders, Love, with its highs and lows, its ecstasies and agonies, was in the mountain air of Oaxaca, the dense smog of DF, and the Pacific breezes of Puerto Angel… And the songs when not performed live, poured out of every available cassette player- Sabor a mi, Quizas, Peregrina, Besame, Total… And so the cultural expression I am looking at is Latin American Passion – Pasión, the art of living intensely, which I feel is sadly lacking in the West. It is expressed in every aspect of life from religious devotion, to love of children and family, offers of help and friendship- ‘mi casa es tu casa ’, laughter and enjoyment of the present moment, and of course heady romance. My painting ‘Noche Oaxaqueña’ evokes a romantic setting, music wafting , water flowing, a warm evening in the gardens of an old colonial convent converted into a beautiful hotel, and a meeting of people whose spirits take flight.