When the government of Aguascalientes commissioned a series of murals from Chilean artist Osvaldo Barra Cunningham, it never imagined the final results would become the most controversial artwork in the state.
“Aguascalientes in History” and “La Feria de San Marcos” are two of the most contentious works. This is because both these paintings featured Consuelo Elía, one of the city’s most well-known prostitutes at the time. In one of them, she’s shown in the center of a press dinner. In the other, she sits inside a restaurant called Doña Petra during the city’s most boisterous annual party.
Doña Petra is still located next to the Garden of San Marcos. In the 1960s, it was known for being a favorite haunt among the aristocratic, and also for its waiters, who were largely homosexual. You can see both of these details reflected in the mural.
But the most controversial painting is perhaps the one featuring a naked young man rising to the heavens, as people were aghast by the depiction of a penis on a public mural. A group of religious conservatives once entered the government building in an attempt to cover the scandalous nudity, but Barra Cunningham was able to persuade a bishop to calm their tempers. Barra Cunningham returned to Aguascalientes in 1992, when he was commissioned once again to paint inside the palace.
Know Before You Go
The palace offers guided tours. Even today, the murals are still controversial.