by Sonia Flores "Juana’s Kitchen" Paper
painting, entitled "Juana’s Kitchen," was created by Elizabeth Baez, a young Puerto
Rican artist. A still life painted with acrylics on canvas, it measures 24" in
height by 20" in length. The date of the work is unknown.
Line is expressive
in the painting as the artist portrays the typical rustic Puerto Rican kitchen.
There is a window to the viewer’s left with a colorful view of the mountains,
the green grass and a clear blue sky. Off to the right you see the corner of a
beautiful flamboyan bush, a lush plant visible all over the island of Puerto Rico.
On the window sill is a "pilón" with a mallet inside of it, used to ground spices
and garlic. A large pot boils on the stove on top of a fire primitively built
with sticks of wood. Colorful vegetables, a banana tree leaf, a small coffee cup
and pot (perhaps brimming with bustelo, the island coffee), and another pilón
adorn the stove. There are two clusters of green bananas hanging on hooks above
the stove. They will probably be used to coo k "pasteles," a tasty dish specially
prepared during the holidays. More pots hang over the stove and in front of it,
balancing the picture. Ms. Baez invites us to taste a morsel of perhaps her mother’s
cooking, and you can almost smell the delicious aroma.
The line in the
picture regulates the composition. The top of the stove is shown at an angle to
reveal all of the clutter on it and its texture. The picture appears to be symmetrical,
the focal point being the boiling pot.
Perspective is used in the artwork.
The bananas, though infinitely smaller than the mountains, appear larger because
of their position in the forefront. The shape of the artwork is even within its
space and does not overlap. The artist painted with bright colors, welcoming the
viewer with a sense of warmth. The predominant color scheme of the artwork is
browns and greens which compliment each other.
The artist uses repetition
by the three pots at the top of the stove, the two on it, and the three dangling
in front. The piece is unified as all the subjects are even within the space.
painting reminded me of my grandmother’s kitchen in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico.
I visited her when I was eight years old, and remember sampling her tasty dishes
prepared on a stove that looked like this. Her house, made of metal on stilts
and linoleum on the floors, was equally primitive.
Ms Baez’s work is a
social commentary of the simplicity of life in "el campo," the quiet, hilly section
of the island. She captures the heart and soul of Puerto Rico on canvas. The description
of "Juana’s Kitchen – you know anything made in a kitchen like this Puerto Rican
kitchen is going to taste really good" is a fitting one.