Halloween brings ghosts, ghouls to your front door. Why not dark Halloween paintings too? I got this idea while appreciating the work of Peruvian painter Cecilia Garcia de Lama. Her art spans profound depths and heights. But it’s the dark ones in particular that are perfect for Halloween.
American painter Cecilia grew up in Peru. She studied art at Academia Di Belle Arti in Florence, Italy. Also she attended the National School of Fine Arts in Lima, Peru and the Art Students League in NYC. Painter Garcia de Lama has such an impressive education. It’s no surprise her work astounds with its rich moods and technical mastery.
The Lady in Black – A Myth
The paintings featured above are from one of her moodier works. It’s the duo – Lady in Black. This tells the story of a Latin American myth in two paintings. La Llorona wears white in the first Halloween painting, awaiting her love at the sea. Then the forlorn Lady wanders to sea as a ghost wearing black. Thus, in the second painting she’s a spectre of sadness… still waiting.
Cecilia’s father told her the La Llorona myth as a child. She’s sometimes called the “Weeping Woman”, the “Lady in White”, along with several other names. In fact, this myth crosses all cultures and generations. It’s likely you’ve heard a version at some point. But some parts of this story stay the same across the globe. The Lady is sad. She wanders the coastline, left alone by her man. In the Latin American version she’s driven to madness by the abandonment. La Llorona then drowns her two sons out of grief and anger. Thus, she’s cursed to wander the coast forever waiting for the man that never comes.
That seems fair.
Is La Llorona a Halloween Painting?
Yes. It’s spooky because La Llorona’s ghost haunts the seascape. This makes Cecilia’s moody takes on The Lady in Black a perfect Halloween painting pair. There’s murder, an apparition, and that echoing sadness when it’s all over. Cecilia chose to dress her Lady in white when alive. She also gave her only a fleck of existence in that first painting. It’s almost like La Lorona was already a ghost. Abandonment can feel like that. Grief serves as a sort of haunting, after all.
In the second of this Halloween painting duo, the Lady wears black. But she’s more solid and certain. Her stance at the seaside braces against a fierce wind. Now, in death, La Llorona has power. As a ghost, she terrifies seaside visitors in her black dress. The spectre’s weeping wails dance on the wind and send chills through the people in her city of grief.
Peru Inspired Halloween Painting
Cecilia Garcia de Lama studied for a year in Florence, Italy. Painting and art colored every aspect of her everyday life. Even days off were filled with art. Florence is like that. On a weekend stroll, she visited the Santa Maria church and saw a painting much like this one above. By the painter Guido Remy, it depicts St. Michael destroying El Diablo, the devil. This made Cecilia think about her homeland, Peru. The Incas were indigenous to Peru. They worshipped land, animals, and plants. So, when the Spanish invaded, they not only took all this from the Incas. They also conquered their spirit.
This brutal attack on the Incan way of life forever changed Peru. The Spanish indoctrinated the Incas with a foreign language, a new religion, and all matters of everyday life. This robbed them of their Incan identity. The invasion took away everything that mattered to them. After all, a people are much more than their land and belongings. It’s their manner of living that makes the Incas who they are. This was now forever destroyed, thanks to Spanish brutality. There’s a certain horror here. That’s what makes this feel like a Halloween painting. The horrendous nature behind it.
The Spanish stole everything from the Incas. Cecilia ruminated on this when she saw Remy’s painting in Santa Maria. She decided to create her own version of the classic painting. In her depiction, above, St. Michael represents the Incas. She gives them vengeance upon the Spanish. Here Cecilia represents the Spanish with El Diablo – the Devil. In death, blood spurts from the mouth and chest of the dying Spanish conquerers. The Incas fought to the death and finally win in her painting’s story.
Halloween Paintings Teach Too
This dark painting renders a bloody battle. That meets the criteria for an All Hallows Eve theme. So, even a church in Italy can hold inspiration for a Halloween painting. It one tells a significant story from history as well. In fact, if it weren’t for Cecilia, I wouldn’t have known the Spanish conquered the Incas and took Peru. Art teaches as much as it moves us. The level of depth it can bring lies as deep as you’re willing to dig.