Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Painting of the Week: Francisco Toledo, Frog

Painting of the Week

Painting of the Week: Francisco Toledo, Frog

This is an unusual watercolor diptych by the late Mexican artist Francisco Toledo, who died this year. The work encompasses two totally opposite scenes; the sensual and intimate painting on the left hand side called Sapo con tortuga (The Frog with a Turtle), and the crowded yet alienating painting on the right, named Sapo con coches (The Frog with Cars). Both are unrealistic, magical and symbolic. They bring us to the omnipresent animal in Toledo’s oeuvre – a frog. The colours are very natural and organic while the vision is metaphorical and inspired by ancient, Zapotec legends.

Francisco Toledo, frog Sapo con coches,sapo con tortuga, circa 1970s
Francisco Toledo, Sapo con coches, sapo con tortuga, watercolor, c. 1970s, private collection. Source: Sotheby’s.

The Frog with a Turtle

In the first part of the diptych, Toledo uses Mayan symbolism and creates an erotic and playful picture. This is shown as, in prehispanic cultures of Mexico, frogs were symbols of luck and of a fortunate turn of events as their sudden appearance predicts the rain. Turtles, on the other hand, were also very potent, revered creatures in pre-columbian societies and were associated with fertility and vitality. 

Francisco Toledo, Sapo con tortuga, detail.
Francisco Toledo, Sapo con tortuga, detail.

We the viewers, catch the frog and the turtle in flagranti. The closed eyes, the extended tongue and the open and stretched hands of the frog allude to joy, pleasure and satisfaction. It is a play between the animals, with the cane as a prop to unite them. It is a game of being close yet distant and above all connected and intimate. 


This scene is painted in light colors and earthy tones of blue, red, orange and grey. By doing this, the artist brings softer emotions and a warmer atmosphere to show the animalistic and symbolic interplay. 

The Frog with Cars

Francisco Toledo Frog
Francisco Toledo, Sapo con coches, detail.

The second fragment of the work shows an absolutely different range of feelings. The color palette also changes into deeper, darker and colder tones of grey, brown, red and blue. The composition is crowded and the proportions unnatural. The frog is pretty much the same size as the three cars next to her. 


The frog is alone, overwhelmed. Its eyes are also closed and the facial expression does not say much. The animal is immobile, frozen and collected. We do not know where she is going or whether or not the cars will run her over at some point.

Francisco Toledo paints with a soft and caring approach and manages to show a striking contrast between the two parts of this work. In this way, he gives the viewer the subtle range of emotions and very essential, human conditions. Sometimes realism is magical and Toledo found a way to express it skillfully and originally in this painting.


Further reading:

All the Fuss and Feathers in Pre-Columbian Art


The World Of Animals Created By Hans Hoffmann In 16th Century

Painting of the Week: Tarsila do Amaral, Abaporú


Ex political science researcher at the Jagiellonian University. Lover and promoter of Latin American art and design (via blog www.thebananas.pl). In spare time president of the board of FOH Foundation, non profit, pro publico bono organization whose mission is to further safety and professional standards in the entertainment productions industry.

 

Comments

More in Painting of the Week

  • Artist

    Photos of Famous Artists When They Were Kids

    By

    Sometimes it is hard to remember that famous artists were also children at one time, just like all of us. We have selected six of them for you to see how cute they were and to learn a little bit more about their lives! 1. Pablo...

  • Art State of Mind

    Cute Babies in Art: From Rubens to Cassatt

    By

    Who doesn’t like a cute baby? Lucky for us, history is full of cute babies in art. And while we could dedicate one whole article to the babies in Mary Cassatt’s paintings alone, there happen to be more artists who excelled in this genre. But where...

  • dailyart

    The Decline of Mughal Arts under Aurangzeb

    By

    Muḥī al-Dīn Muḥammad was the sixth man to ascend to the Mughal throne and the last of the strong Mughal rulers. He was a notable expansionist under whom the Mughal empire ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent. On the throne, he was known as Aurangzeb...

  • dailyart

    Happy Birthday, Kate!

    By

    This is an unusual feature and probably the only one in DailyArt Magazine history that will also come as a surprise to our beloved Editor-in-chief, Dr. Kate Wojtczak. For our readers who may have wondered who keeps the wheels of our magazine turning, meet Kate!  She...

  • dailyart

    Ivan VI of Russia: The Baby Emperor

    By

    Ivan VI of Russia (Ivan Antonovich) was the youngest Russian tsar in history. He was proclaimed emperor when only two months old, and his 22-year-old mother, Grand Duchess Anna Leopoldovna, took the title of Regent; but, barely one year of Ivan’s reign had passed before Tsarevna...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy