Been-Seen logo


The color of Mexico

I've just got back from the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico and can't stop thinking about color. The sea really was turquoise, the trees a lush green, and the flowers vivid magenta. You can see exactly where Mexico finds its rich color palette for
art and design. Straight from nature. Buildings are saturated in reds and yellows, dancing skeletons are painted in fuschias and scarlets, and even the graves are decorated fearlessly in every color that was ever found in life.

Colors have meaning. Red and yellow together signal a fiesta. Red and white have religious symbolism – the passion of Christ married with purity. White is magical, keeping illness and black magic at bay. For the Mayans green was lucky, for the Aztecs it was royal. Red is believed to have the power to protect. The Mexican flag brings these symbols to life: green represents independence or hope; white purity; and red unity or the blood of the country's heroes.

One of the things I noticed most is not only the boldness of the color, but the unexpected color combinations. Colors you would never imagine combining dance together vividly, flying in the face of decorum, convention, boredom. This brilliance challenges staid preconceptions, especially in the world of the dead and buried.

Death is so often portrayed in somber hues, greys and browns – but not in Mexico.
I came across a little cemetery that was alive with colors and celebration. It was cheeky, fun, inspirational. Not feelings you normally equate with death. I left with a smile on my face and an urge to redecorate my house. RM

Back to articles

    Any comments?