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The stories in the walls

The stories in the walls

Art lovers shouldn’t miss an opportunity to see the fantastic murals that are located around the town of Adeje, the work of artist Conrado Díaz Ruíz.  The paintings tell the story of the town, the old ways of life, and pay homage to the men and women who worked long, hard hours during the evolution of the borough.

Conrado Díaz Ruíz, an artist based in Adeje, was born on October 16th 1965 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.  He studied with professors of Fine Art at the University of La Laguna such as Pedro González, Maribel Nazco and Miguel Arocha.  In 1987 he travelled to Madrid to visit the Arco art fair where he met painter Antonio Lorenzo.  This first phase of his professional journey was dominated by abstract art, but over time his work as moved into realism.  Among his influences he lists Antonio Lopez alongside the collection of work from the classic court of the San Fernando de Madrid Academy.

His murals reflect the strength of Adeje’s people, those who battled the odds, tireless, always active, weather-beaten, perhaps reminding us of the classical energetic figures of the work of Miguel Angel Buonarotti. People dressed in clothing typical of the oldest epochs of our history and others, more modern in aspect, who reflect the story of a village.

Conrado Díaz takes us to an Adeje that isn’t that far away, where the herculean and majestic protagonists of his paintings are concentrating on the work in hand, ignoring us, the spectators. The colourful tones are an integral part of the scenes, and add to their significance, a moment of the past captured for us, a moment in our recent past, where the drawing, the sentiment displayed, and the story told, form part of the frame. Large murals, full of details, which add to our knowledge and help us understand times gone by. Díaz is a superb artist and uses trompe l’oeil to create optical illusions, and give us the feeling that we are looking at a number of different levels and perspectives. He works to bring us into the scenes he has created, to understand and feel the story he is telling.

The ‘Molino de Arriba’ mural offers two settings: a guanche (Tenerife aborigine) and a woman with a child. Both tell us the important role that water played in the south, given its scarcity, and how this was to become a fundamental part of the history of the zone, with everything happening based around it. It was one of the first guanches settlements in the south of the island, called Rio de Adeje (Adeje river), now the Barranco del Infierno, with the local economy based on goat and sheep farming, developing migratory habits for the whole territory, as we can see from the skins worn by the guanches. The shell that is used to signal over distance, called ‘Bucio’ in the Canarias, was the way that people communicated with each other in days gone by.

Furthermore, in relation to water, to the right in the mural is an old fashioned laundry, with clothes of the time, where people went to the mill carrying bundles of clothes on their heads, a typical way of transporting materials at that time.

Adeje was one of the most farmed zones in the south, given the presence of water here. The town of Adeje lived basically from agriculture, herding and fishing.  Cultivation was divided into those working with cereal crops, or vineyards, vegetables, dates, citric fruits and quince. Women carried out a large portion of the gathering and reaping as well as crop cleaning. They wore wide-brimmed hats, scarves, large shirts and long skirts, protecting themselves as much as possible from the harsh rays of the sun as they toiled in the fields.

Las Nieves, on the land that was originally owned by the Fyffe’s company, was dedicated to the export of banana and tomatoes, dotted with the houses of the workers. The mural here pays tribute to all of these women and men who worked tirelessly for the company since the end of the 19th century, and from where Adeje began to grow as a borough. In this mural various kinds of work are reflected: working with the water flow – making stone channels to bring water to where it was most needed and zones furthest away, the hard work involved in carrying banana stems 80 km to be packed and, then, replant, water, place the canes by the tomato plants to guide the stems, pick the tomatoes…

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