Didem Doğan

To Fit an Entire Civilization inside a Painting: The National Palace

The National Palace which extends along one side of the large Zócalo Square in the center of Mexico City houses the murals of Diego Rivera. These murals portray Mexican history, starting from the ancient civilizations, the Spanish invasion, the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez and his Mexican wife La Malinche, the Mexican Revolution, the revolutionists, and the pictures of Rivera’s wife Frida Kahlo, all mixed together. When you go through the main gate and climb the stairs, you will see a mural called “The Saga of the Mexican Peoples”: it displays all the main events that took place in Mexico between 1521 and 1930. A myth from the pre-Hispanic period was painted too: the Aztec God Quetzalcoatl who descended to the Earth and having accomplished his mission, ascended back to the sky as a star; it is followed by the period of invasion, violence and torture when the Spanish came, the priests who defended the rights of the local people, and then the French and American invasions, and the socialist thinkers of the 20th century, such as Marx. Diego’s tribute to the ancient civilizations, as well as his political stance and the call for communism is emphasized. In a painting in a front row, his wife Frida Kahlo is holding a ying-yang symbol…The murals continue on the middle floor: the marketplace, the arrival of Hernan Cortez…