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Samuel Sarmiento, La gran cisma, 2020, mixed media on canvas, 495x210cm.

La gran cisma or the Great Schism is a work that speaks about the processes of separation or division following important events throughout the history of mankind. Progress is followed by the destruction or rupture of something else. A kind of sacrifice. 

The Great Schism was an important event in the history of religion that took place in 1054 when the catholic church and the orthodox church severed ties with each other because of theological and political differences. This event caused big changes in the development of religious thinking. Sarmiento makes use of the symbology of this event and applies it to all mayor transformations in our history. You can see it for example in the so-called 'discovery' of America by Europe. This was the start of the American-European division and of the ideologies on race that divided humankind into sub-classes. You could also see it in the molecular processes that allow cells to multiply and regenerate tissues. Or in a more contemporary context, it's visible in the way COVID-19 divided countries and people.


Even though the canvas may seem at first glance chaotic, it has a more precise composition. You can see three different areas on the canvas: left, right, and center.


In the central part of the canvas, we can see a group of feminine, masculine, human, and animal figures standing in a circle. All these 'human' figures look like they are interacting with another, a kind of opposite, except the orange figure sitting down by itself. 

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You can also note the combination of loose brushstrokes with more refined lines

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In the right area of the canvas, things get more chaotic with different forms and bright colors. One interesting detail is the tiger head that has an imposing presence. It looks like a sun that is announcing itself with a loud roar, suggested by the facial expression and the thick layer of yellow paint.


The left area of the canvas has less contrast in colors and fewer elements. One interesting form is the dark and abstract 'stain' on the top corner. At first, it looks like an accidental gesture left by the artist but taking a closer look, you can recognize an intention. With marks that seem like arms up in the air, the shape could be a menacing spirit, drifting towards the central group.


With his use of bright colors that disrupt the calm pastel tones on the canvas and the organic shapes that contrast the more abstract forms, Sarmiento creates a dynamic composition. He created entropy on the canvas.  

Text and design: Ana Maria Hernandez

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