San Juan Comalapa
The Paintings of
One of the second generation of male Comalapa painters is Salvador Cumes Curruchich who would prove crucial in helping Comalapa women become painters. Salvador is no relation to Andres Curruchic, Curruchich being a common Maya last name in San Juan Comalapa. As a child, Salvador’s family worried about him because he had no interest in the things that commonly interest Maya children. He was only interested in drawing. If he had no materials, he would use what was at hand. He would take a stick and draw in the dirt. His family sent him to work in the fields with the men, but he would return early because he was bored. When he was about thirteen, there was an art competition to paint the portrait for a festival honoring a local man who had become a nationally known general. Salvador entered a painting he had done from memory of the likeness of the man, and won first place. This caused a sensation in the national press because a young boy had beaten all the professional artists, and it lauched Salvador’s career as an artist. He would go on to study with surrealist artists in Oxaca, Mexico.
In the late 1980s, Salvador Cumes decided to form a woman’s painting collective from interested Kaqchikel women. He taught them how to draw, mix paints and stretch canvas. Drawing on his association with Mexican Surrealist painters, he encouraged them to draw their themes from their dreams.