Painted by Argentine artist, Fernando Guibert the 20 x 10 foot mural that adorns the far wall of our Northwood restaurant is reminiscent of a scene in the theater with green curtains on either side.
An Argentine gaucho on the left opens the curtain to let everybody see the landscape and scene which unfolds. He is wearing a facon (large knife generally tucked in the gaucho’s belt – rastra – decorated traditionally with silver coins) They are also used for cutting and eating the delicious meat loved in Argentina. There are different characters and figures with some animals native to Argentina, all set in the countryside or Pampas in an indeterminate historical moment. The clothing corresponds roughly to the 19th century.
The ample scene is divided in two main areas, on the left the flat grasslands of the pampas and its natural life and on the right and old puperia or country tavern with a domestic scene at the front.
The two main figures representing both worlds are the two riders or gauchos on each side of the mural facing each other in almost heraldic form. The horseman on the left is wearing a red poncho represents nature as it rides a golden horse in a lively pose. On the other side of the composition the brown horse and rider wearing a white poncho represent the domestic life of the gaucho surrounded by the scene of the pulperia. On the left , the grasslands of the Argentine flat pampas are dominated by different shades of green; on the right the prominent colours are ochre and brown.
The composition revolves around the two characters in the centre, i.e. the lady with the sunshade and the old gaucho carrying a rebenque, a type of long whip. The tree as an axis between them in the background is the ombu native to the pampas. They face each other in the same way as the riders. In front of the pulperia at the back, a woman is holding a plate with two empanadas (traditional pastry or meat pie) while she nags one of the gauchos.
In the foreground three men sit together. One is singing and playing the guitar. In the middle, another one is fixing the boleadoras. Gauchos use them to catch running cattle or game. The thrower grasps the boleadoras by one of the weights; he gives the balls momentum by swinging and releasing them. The weapon is usually used to entangle the animal’s legs. An example of this is shown on the left of the painting with a gaucho chasing a nandu with this same weapon. Finally the third man has a mate in his hand, a herbal infusion traditional in Argentina.
Also facing each other at both ends of the mural a gaucho reclining on the left of the saddle of his horse (a typical apero), pensive and dreamlike towards a woman on the other side. She is holding an apple and leaning on a pillar and represents a Muse, the inspirational figure of art. In Greek mythology they are the goddesses that encourage the creation of literature and the arts who are also considered the source of knowledge.
The mural has various allegories and symbolic associations that not only recreate a disappearing way of life in the rural Argentine countryside but also of human existence.