Although in the last few years Armando Mariño has turned to other topics and interests, his most characteristic work – that which made him known and admired – focused almost exclusively on the stressful relationship between western and non-western cultures, between the “civilized" and the “wild" or the "centre" and the "periphery".
This work, like many other works by Mariño, is intentionally shocking. The matter is presented crudely, without the smallest concession to the aesthetic sensibility of the spectator who is made to view a perverse, satanic event, including a masked creature with long horns and an open abdomen with exposed guts. The odd thing is that this small image, an addition to one side of the main painting, makes what should be truly sinister and repulsive seem less awful: the image of an African slave under the torture of a tight noose and a halter or iron mask that were applied as punishment by the master, (foto 1) as well as the legal provision that appears in the painting: "…to procure that the black marry black, and that the slaves do not become free for having married", transcribed from Book VI of the Leyes de Indias (Laws of the Indies). The work is a disturbing comment on the old prohibition against mixed marriages between blacks and whites, and suggests a false conception that the genetic component of a black person could contaminate the white race and produce monstrous or diabolical creatures. Of course such arguments are no longer part of the current discourse on this matter, but Mariño tries to remove any vestige of this racist fraud that may have remained in the contemporary collective imagination, both in Cuba and the rest of the world.