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Samuel Sarmiento, Pactos pampianos, 2019, mixed media on paper, 36x26cm

El Gaucho - Jorge Luis Borges
00:00 / 02:07

Pactos Pampianos or Covenants of La Pampa is a work Sarmiento created during an artist residency in Buenos Aires, Argentina. While he was there, he became interested in the local deities and legends, especially the cultural symbol of the Gaucho (a skilled horseman and national symbol that stands for strength, braveness, and wilderness).

In this work, Sarmiento combines the Argentinian folklore with other cultural deities from the wilderness and rural areas such as La Pampa and the Venezuelan savannas, that are meant to help people in moments of sorrow and need.


The work also explores the more human side of the Gaucho. A hard man has feelings and is sensitive while being able to fend for himself against nature and harsh circumstances.


The focal point of the work is a group of figures gathered around a blue flame. One can't help but feel the concern and sorrow on the face of the man sitting down. Even if the details in his face are but suggestions. 


The feeling of anguish is reinforced by the foliage that surrounds them. Even though the colors are light and the shapes are non-threatening, there is a lot of movement that suggests the weather is not being kind to the group. 


The three figures standing behind the sitting man contradict his anguish with a more serene and calm demeanor. Sarmiento references here the deities and icons that guide believers towards a more hopeful place. 

The figures are representations of el Gauchito Gil, an indigenous version of the virgin mary (wearing rural attire), and representation of the idea of the 'rural' man.


In the right lower corner of the composition, Sarmiento introduces a shape that is hard to read concretely. Its bright colors and brushstrokes give a flair of optimism to the whole. But you can look into it what you will.

Text and design: Ana Maria Hernandez

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