The Candombes

The bodies of the black women, dressed in discordant colors, bent disjointedly, their arms moving rhythmically. The black men mimicking their masters, wear top hats, jackets or tails, and garish plaid, striped or embroidered vests. The canes, the enormous watch chains, and, the metals of shiney paper outshine the embroidered uniforms of the marshals. When the dance heats up, the top hats fly and, with their jackets off, they shake wildly, sinuously, moving to and fro possessed by the rhythm of the various drums, especially the "little one", because "if the little one stops the candombe is over".

Impassioned by the rhythm, with a fleeting and naive joy, the dance is the reward for their tasks in the stables, for the jobs as porters that leave their agile bodies bent.

To the contrary of what one might expect, while the music of the candombes is purely rhythmic, based on a beat marked by drums or feet stomping on the floor, the vestige of some ritual, Figari's blacks appear as rhythmic groups without a common beat, each figure independent of the others, as happens also in contemporary poetry, where each verse is as long as it needs to be to express a complete image.

This metrical diversity in Figari's candombes introduces an element of visual turmoil in the paintings: if one tries to look at them while blinking one's eyes, it seems as if the figures change position.

Figari, with his innocent humanity, based his vision only on the color and joy of the candombes of Montevideo.

* written by by Samuel Oliver, excerpt from the book 'Figari', 1984, by Samuel Oliver from the collection "Artistas de Americas".