Maruja Mallo herself considered Canto de las espigas (Song of the Spikes) as one of her most representative and emblematic works, to the extent that she said more than once that she wanted the painting to end up in “the hands of the people of Spain.” The artist painted it in Argentina, where she had been welcomed for twenty-five years after her forced exile as a result of the Civil War. Canto de las espigas forms part of the series dedicated to work in fields and on the sea, which the artist later dubbed Religión del trabajo (Religon of Work). The starting point for this series of paintings was the enigmatic oil painting Sorpresa del trigo (The Surprise of the Wheat), from 1936, and consists of seven paintings of different sizes, most of them large format. Five of the pictures are about the sea, and of the remaining two, inspired by work on the land, Canto de las espigas is without doubt the more spectacular, as much for its size and landscape format as for the formal execution of the content.
Paloma Esteban Leal