Cueva de guanches (Guanche Cave)

Óscar Domínguez

La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain, 1906 - Paris, France, 1957

This painting, one of Óscar Domínguez’s most iconic along with Máquina de coser electrosexual (Electrosexual Sewing Machine, 1934), belonged to the poet Pedro García Cabrera, cofounder of the magazine Gaceta de Arte. It forms part of a group of compositions in which the artist nostalgically evoked his homeland, the Canary Islands, which also includes Recuerdo de mi isla (Memory of My Island) and Mariposas perdidas en las montañas (Butterflies Lost in the Mountains).
In Cueva de guanches (Guanche Cave), Domínguez seems to be taking an orthodox approach to the application of Surrealist principles, organising the composition into two clearly demarcated horizontal bands. In the upper part, which corresponds to the rational world, an angler (possibly a self-portrait) holds a fishing rod with his back to the viewer. The lower part of the canvas is filled by deformed, metamorphic creatures representing visions from the subconscious. The link between the two mental strata seems to be the can-opener lying behind the angler, while the memory of the native past in the Canary Islands can be found in the figure on the left, sketched out on a reddish patch.

Paloma Esteban Leal