John Suazo is a celebrated stone sculptor and he credits his “Uncle Ralph” with inspiring him. This vintage sculpture by Ralph Suazo re-emerged when our gallery moved, a couple of years ago.
Ralph Suazo carved the creatures and scenes he saw around his Taos Pueblo home in different kinds of wood, often in cedar. Using only a knife, he developed a simplified, modern look that also maintained the essence of the subjects, as seen in this portrayal of a hunter.
Clad in a loincloth, hair in the traditional chongo, or bun, the man is stealthily creeping toward his prey, knife at the ready. Although everything about the figure is abstracted, there are enough artfully suggested details to keep the work recognizably natural. Because of the elemental simplicity and good proportions, the figure appears monumental; it could easily be forty feet long, just looking at the photo.
There is a powerful feeling of strength and intensity in this figure. Indeed, his features, as seen in the close-up, are full of emotion. Maybe, he is conducting a sacred rite, rather than merely hunting? Or, following Native culture, is he saying a prayer of thanks to the animal who is about to, or has just, provided him with food and other needed materials?
Whatever your interpretation, there is beauty in the forms and the mellow shade of the wood, and the compelling feeling of motion (see the slightly upraised arm, as if he is about to creep forward), as well as the fervent feeling in the face. Notice how his kilt curls over his leg, in the back view. A fine example of the artistry and singular emotion this late, great artist imbued in his work.