Oil and Sand on Canvas Painting by Rodolfo Morales

Here we have a painting by Rodolfo Morales. Rodolfo Morales, as many people know is one of the great Oaxacan artists from the 1990’s and the early 2000’s. 

Provenance and Period

This is a really interesting piece. First of all, the provenance is Galleria Estal Shipiro (as the tags indicate on the back of the frame). Estal Shipiro was Rodolfo’s art dealer up until the early 1990’s. 

This puts this piece in the period of what I feel to be Rodolfo’s Morales’s best work. At this point he’s painting at his best. He’s matured as a painter. Later in life he became very prolific, but in this piece you can see that he’s started a painting and he’s finished it all the way through. 

Color and Technique

There’s not an abundance of texture created by sand but he uses wonderful techniques that we’ll look at a little further. 

He uses beautiful under painting in certain areas (left), and when he wants a heavier texture, he uses a wonderful empasto (right). 


Now, it may sound little redundant to say but it’s a very symmetrical painting. We’re looking at it from four sides. There’s buildings on four sides, faces looking down, faces looking up. But essentially, the only thing that’s not symmetrical in the painting is this figure here. 

And what we see here is, this figure down here, whose legs, are actually at the top of the painting. So if the painting was folded rounding a cylinder, her body would join together. 

Another other really interest aspect to this painting is that its signed in every corner. So essentially what Rodolfo Morales is saying is, this painting has no top and no bottom. 

When we look at it this way, we have this central figure, this earthly figure if you will, looking up at the heavens. So these faces give the feel of angels looking down. 

But when you turn this painting the other way around, it takes on a very different conotation. Now, this figure is actually looking down. So again it reads into that wonderful relationship that you see in a lot of Mexican art and culture, and particularly in Oaxaca, that wonderful relationship between the real world and the spiritual world.


In addition to the girl in the dress, we have these four figures here looking down (or up), and these four figures here looking outwards. And all around (you don’t see them immediately), are these darker shapes looking inwards. 


The other interesting thing about this painting is the wonderful use of architecture and arches. These arches become doorways where they become symbolic of passing from one reality into another. 

Depending on which the painting is, the arches take on different meanings. 

From this perspective, you can see a man standing outside of a doorway. Maybe contemplating wether he will enter. 


All in all a superb, and well thought out painting by Rodolfo Morales. It’s from a fabulous period when he used rich undertones of paint and fantastic heavy strokes of empasto. Initially you enjoy the painting, you don’t get caught up in all the complexity of it. But when you do, you begin to read it on a different level.