Leonardo González








150 x 200 cm


Drawing on charcoal, acrylic, and resins on canvas

These paintings form part of the “Toponimias” series by Honduran artist Leonardo González. Using the many American scams as a historical reference as well as the Cabbages and Kings stories, in particular “The admiral”, by American author known as O. Henry, González has created a series of work that visually represent a fictitious series of banana archipelagos. Each painting has the name of an imaginary world inspired by words from world literature such as Utopia and Neverland. The works have been created with bright and intense green and yellow colours which give the illusion of an abundant, warm and inviting tropical scene. In Neverland, González paints two islands: on the biggest one, the landscape is dominated by a large sign that carries the name of the imaginary archipelago and is similar to the famous Hollywood sign. In Utopia the harmonious landscape disappears and some tropical plants (palm trees and banana plants) grow over the sign showing the island’s name. In this artists imagination, these signs welcome visitors to these new nations with the illusion of a promising future when, in reality, they arrive at an unexpected place where destiny is the result of chance because the instability that characterizes them makes them unpredictable and uninhabitable spaces. The reference to O. Henry is not coincidental, given that it was this author that popularised the notion of the “banana republic” using a similar strategy to González. In the stories of his Cabbages and Kings book, O. Henry (pseudonym for William Sydney Porter) creates a new Central American nation called Anchuria that is characterised by its tropical climate and political and economic instability. This imaginary place is directly inspired by Honduras and its history at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. O. Henry spent six months in Honduras trying to avoid a potential prosecution for allegedly stealing money while working as a cashier for First National Bank. During his escape to Honduras the writer stayed at a hotel in the city of Trujillo where he wrote one of the books that made him such a well-known author. In addition to this reference, González was also inspired by an unusual historical fact: at the start of the 19th century the Scottish soldier sir Gregor MacGregor swindles several British and French investors that bought bonds from the new American nation and exchanged local money for a currency invented and printed by MacGregor himself. The “new country”, called Poyais, was supposedly located in La Mosquita, a virgin jungle on the Atlantic coast of Honduras. So, Honduras became the driving force behind the series of stories that inspire fictional accounts based on a reality that Hondurans still lives today, day after day. These paintings are the result of another promising illusion that ultimately leads to failure.