A New Generation of Artists

A new generation of Maya artists is developing in Guatemala in the twenty-first century.

One of the most exciting young artists today is Marlon José Luisiñho Puac Méndez. A Tz'utuhil Maya from San Pedro la Laguna, he grew up in the midst of a thriving artistic tradition. He went to art school in Guatemala City, and has developed exciting new concepts for his work.

Early Maya Artists

In the early twentieth century, a new type of painting was born in Guatemala. Known as "naive" or "popular" art, it drew upon the rich indigenous cultural tradition of weaving, as well as the artistic heritage of the ancient Maya.

In 1929, Rafaél González y González (1907-1996) of the Tz'utuhil Maya mixed aniline dyes used by the weavers with sap from a tree. He began to paint images reflecting traditional Maya life.  Some of his sons and grandsons also became artists, expressing in vibrant oil paintings a rich indigenous culture that has survived 500 years of brutal oppression.

In San Juan Comalapa, the Kaqchikel Maya artist Andres Curruchich Cúmez (1891-1969) also began to paint in the late 1920s. He taught many other aspiring artists, and many of his own descendents are well-known painters today.

Tz'utuhil artist Juan Sisay (1921-1989) began to paint in the 1940s in Santiago Atitlán. Today his three sons—Juan Francisco Sisay, Juan Diego Sisay, and Juan Manuel Sisay—are well-known painters.