DIEGO RIVERA -- MY ART, MY LIFE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY (WITH GLADYS MARCH)
MEANWHILE I PAINTED, and although I now took some pride in my work, I was also often depressed by a generalized sense of inferiority. It was a racial feeling, not unlike that felt by many artists in the United States. And like many of them, it finally would bring me to Europe. But in my (Mexican) case its roots were not specifically the same.
Before the coming of the Spaniards, the Mexican Indian artists had shown great force and genius. Like all first-rate art, their work had been intensely local: related to the soil, the landscape, the forms, animals, deities, and colors of their own world. Above all, it had been emotion-centered. It was moulded by their hopes, fears, joys, superstitions, and sufferings.
Under the tyranny of the Spaniards, the half-breed descendants of these great Indian creators turned away from the native sources that had given Mexican art its power. Feeling inferior to their conquerors and oppressors, they sought to raise themselves to equality by imitating the accepted models of classical European art.
It was the response of men reacting to a tradition of defeat -- and this tradition was within me, too, buried in my subconscious. Yet I was continuously aware of the greatness of pre-Conquest art. Within and without, I fought against inhibiting academic conventions, trusting my emotions to guide me in painting canvases I am still not ashamed to have done. Among these are my "Pisafoo," "Tuni," "White Sensitive," and "White Sensuous" -- works whose purity of feeling gives them a value which transcends their rather wicked subject matter.