You know how every country has its ultra-common lastname, that half the population seems to have? The cliches like Smith in the Anglophone world, Nguyen in Vietnam, Lee in China, Jansen in the Netherlands or Rodriguez among Hispanics.
Well, despite being a South American country, Bolivia is a bit different in this respect (all though Rodriguez is still up there in the top 5 somewhere). The indigenous population is a decisive factor here, making names like Quispe, Choque and Mamani extremely common as well.
One particular man called Roberto, presumably with both a mother and a father with the last name Mamani, is who I want to introduce to you today. Roberto is an artist, best known as Mamani Mamani.
His art is colorful, fun and childlike, but at the same time so very complicated it might make your head hurt. I go back and forth trying to decide if I would want to hang a (replica of) a painting of his in my home some day and right now my answer would be a full hearted yes.
Take this one, for example:
I can only imagine what a piece like this must look like up close, without being handicapped by pixels or color muddling digital screens.
It’s a man, it’s a mountain. It’s the flora, the fauna and the cultural essence of the Bolivian highlands; all in one. The colors clash with each other in perfect harmony. It captivates me so that I can’t help but embark on an instant daydream, up that winding road straight to its core.
It’s actually quite strange as anybody who’s been to the Andes knows that the highlands are not exactly the most colorful places on earth. At the same time, these depictions feel completely accurate to me.