“Garcia Mata plays the rhythm of the conga in the body of the mulatto dancer, who lifts her left arm as she does the kick-step. She wears a sensual typical dress and is accompanied by a group of six musicians. The painting beautifully represents when Afro-Cuban music became main-stream, and a representative of Cuban culture at large.”

– Alfredo Triff, Musician and Art Critic

Evelio Garcia Mata (1903 – 1984) specialized in painting country scenes and animals. He participated in many shows and won numerous awards. He founded the Cuban fine arts association Sociedad Cubana de Bellas Artes.

La conga was created by Evelio García Mata during a time when the international success of Cuban music was making huge strides in creating national pride.  Prior to being commissioned to undertake this work, García Mata had been one of the only Cuban artists that had chosen to specialize in depicting animals.  Hence, this painting became an acclaimed exception to his usual works.  The conga, a popular Afro-Cuban dance consisting of a three-count pulse and a kick-step, had become widely popular in the late 1930s, as dancers formed long conga lines that weaved through dance floors. It also became a great component of social interaction as it permeated all barriers of society.  It was enjoyed as a street dance during carnivals as much as during the most sophisticated high society parties.  This painting, clearly influenced by the art deco style that had become so prevalent in Cuba during the1920s, is not meant to represent a realistic scene but rather a symbolic one. Decorative elements found in the murals and stage designs of the time are noticeable.  As are the presence of some technical resources, such as the gold color used for the banana-like big leaves in the background, not commonly used in straight painting. García Mata plays the rhythm of the conga (a feminine noun) in the body of the mulatto dancer, who lifts her left arm as she does the kick-step. She wears a sensual typical dress and is joined by a group of six musicians. The painter stresses harmony between dancers and musicians.  Even those that are playing their instruments are also taking part in the dance. García Mata’s vision is optimistic: the scene takes place in an idyllic setting, among palm trees. The painting beautifully portrays a moment when Afro-Cuban music became part of mainstream Cuban society and a representative of Cuban culture at large.

 

22 x 45 Memorabilia