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FRANCISCO GOYA

GOYA 2


INTRODUCTION:

After one of my recent visits to The Whitworth in Manchester, which was a host to a collection of Goya’s drawings and etchings, I became increasingly interested in both his style of drawing as well as subject matter.

What seemingly seemed as far from my focus (memory), the grotesque artworks helped me develop an understanding and incorporating of loss into my work, which before was a vague idea that I have come up with.

From the collection of artworks by Goya a major subject matter was death and loss, which I suppose was very fitting in depicting the 18th century, which was saturated with plagues, illnesses, poverty, homelessness, low standard of life, suffering and death.

I began to draw and observe his work, to try and gain a better understanding of his intentions as well as the pain he was conveying. Additionally, this became a practice that bought me closer to his technique of drawing.

As a result, I produced a couple of drawings were, at first, I unconsciously focus on the human face as the subject of investigation – I later concluded that this is were the most pain and loss was being conveyed. Moreover, the faces were the beholders of the overall narrative within the drawings/etchings.

Another aspect of his etchings, that held my attention was his use of light-dark contrast (chiaroscuro), that not only added depth to the visual image but also to the dark narratives.

THESE DRAWINGS CAN BE FOUND IN MY SKETCHBOOK.

The below research is my investigation of his reasons for conveying such pain – trying to gain an understanding of his motifs. I would like to better understand his history and how that has lead him to producing his later darker series.


GOYA 3

“FRANCISCO GOYA”

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Goya]

  • BASIC INFORMATION:
    • suffered an undiagnosed illness in 1793 which left him deaf
      • and afterwards his work became “progressively darker and pessimistic”
    • around 1807 when France went to war against Spain – Goya produced “a wide variety of paintings concerned with insanity, mental asylums, witches, fantastical creatures and religious and political corruption”
      • this can suggest that he feared for the fait of Spain as well as his own wellbeing
        • to add the series ‘Los Disparates’ all have very strong light-dark contrasts – black backgrounds
    • ‘Black Paintings’ (1819-1823) was the one of the latest series he painted in his life
      • oil paint on the walls of his house the Quinta del Sordo (House of the Deaf Man)
        • lived in near isolation
    • ‘Los Caprichos’

“DISPARATE GOYA”

[https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/disparate-goya-1272209.html]

  • “depict his visions of Hell”
    • a part of Hell is that the people are “always completely conscious of their punishment”
  • The title ‘Los Disparates’ is taken from the work “disparate” – which means folly or ABSURDITY
  • no particular order from scene to scene
    • “lack of continuity”
    • “the distinctness of each idea, that’s most apparent.”
  • “The difficulty of knowing what’s going on becomes the action. Nobody knows what’s happening or what’s happening to them.”
  • [referring to two figures of one drawing] “What is painful […] is that they don’t seem to understand how they cause each other pain.”
  • in Goya’s version or interpretation of what Hell is there is “a state of universal stupidity”
    • where absurdity is predominant
    • “parade of mystification and compulsive behaviour”
    • there is a lack of consciousness amongst the people – no one is really aware of what they are doing
    • a degree of insanity?

“WHY YOU MUST KNOW GOYA’S BLACK PAINTINGS, THE DARKEST PAINTING SERIES IN THE WORLD”

[https://www.theartist.me/art/francisco-goyas-black-paintings/]

  • [while a tapestry designer for royal palaces] “his work was infused with his fascination for common street life, alluding to his humble roots and primed him to be a keen observer of human nature.”
    • an active observer
  • [In 1792 his mysterious illness left hum deaf] “Imprisoned in a tomb of silence”
    • “distanced himself from society, becoming bitter and increasingly occupied with his own anxieties and fantasies.”
    • perhaps his ‘Black Paintings’ were an outlet of frustration
  • during the war between his homeland Spain and France, where he was a court painter, he captured “the horrors of war in ‘The Disasters of War'”
    • “chronicle the bloodcurdling savagery and violence of mankind in times of conflict”
    • [the artist] “lost his faith in humanity and further withdrew from society”
  • “THE BLACK PAINTINGS: SELF-EXPRESSION OF A TORTURED MIND”

    • “expressed the fears which plagued him.”
    • “proceeded his time by exploring the human psyche”
    • “did not intend for the images to be made public
      1. ATROPOS (THE FATES)

        • “one cannot escape destiny
      2. DOS VIEJOS (TWO OLD MEN)

        • insanity?
        • allude to the artist’s deafness?
        • surrounded by darkness
      3. DOS VIEJOS COMIENDO SOPA (TWO OLD MEN EATING SOUP)

        • “arouses feelings of misery and despair
      4. DUELO A GARROTAZOS (FIGHT WITH CUDGELS)

        • two men rushing at each other in conflict
        • “The sparing pair seems to sink into a muddy bog as they fight”
      5. AQUELARRE (WITCHES’ SABBATH)

        • Satan with a head of a goat, “lingers over a huddle of terrified witches”
        • there is a withdrawn girl who sits away from the grouping of bodies
        • [according to art historian, Licht] “Goya’s reflection to physically convey anxiety at human inadequacy and his own feelings of personal doubt
      6. HOMBRES LEYENDO (MEN READING)

        • group of men gathered in front of a document
        • “One of the men gazes upwards in a look of despair.”
      7. JUDITH Y HOLOFERNES (JUDITH AND HOLOFERNES)

        • Goya’s personal interpretation of the narrative from the “Book of Judith”
          • where Judith saves her people by “seducing and beheading General Holofernes”
      8. LA ROMERIA DE SAN ISIDRO (A PILGRIMAGE TO SAN ISIDRO)

        • drunk/despairing pilgrimage
        • “Goya explores the subject of pilgrimage to convey the popular superstitions and ignorance
      9. MUJERES RIENDO (MEN MOCKED BY TWO WOMEN)

        • perhaps depiction of two prostitutes with “mocking expressions at a man who sits masturbating.”
        • linked to ‘Men Reading’ in the same series (here number 6)
        • use of darkness over eyes – repeated technique
        • the figures surrounded by darkness
        • quite a sinister smile on one of the woman’s faces
        • exposing human nature?
          • the man is doing it in isolation – hiding
      10. PEREGRINACION A LA FUENTE DE SAN ISIDRO/PROCESION DEL SANTO OFICIO (PROCESSION OF THE HOLY OFFICE)

        • “sky is brightly lit, yet the figures are encased in hues of browns, blacks and grays”
        • the skull-like faces are contrasted with the colourfulness of the sky
      11. EL PERRO (THE DOG)

        • “dog is lost in the emptiness of the image”
        • “man’s trivial struggle against malicious forces”?
        • there also seems to be a figure of a man – appearing to be a part of the sandy landscape/surrounding – ghostly?
        • perhaps the dog is looking longingly at the figure?
        • loss of life?
        • strong isolation – loneliness?
        • soon to be buried? – death? – indicated by the surrounding earth and sand colours
      12. SATURNO DEVORANDO A UN HIJO (SATURN DEVOURING HIS SON)

        • inspired by Greek mythology
        • Saturn eats one of his sons out of fear that he will overtake him
        • “The ancient god with bulging eyes rips into the flesh of a small bloody body.”
        • the viewer is left struck and horrified from the powerful gaze of Saturn – which seems to be piercing us
          • perhaps conveying his ironic despair?
      13. LA LEOCADIA (THE SEDUCTRESS)

        • Goya’s housemaid – possibly lover?
        • mantlepiece/burial mound
        • seemingly the ‘lightest’ of the paintings
      14. VISION FANTASTICA/ASMODEA (FANTASTIC VISION)

        • “armed soldier raises his rifle towards the figures as they appear to float towards a fortress at the top of the mountain”
    • an investigation and criticism of human nature after years of experience and observations from multiple perspectives
      • addressing the darkness of human nature
      • what humanity truly is?
      • what people are capable of doing to one another
      • dilemmas of life?
    • hopelessness?
      • conveyed through the use of dark backgrounds – encapsulating the figures
      • they seem to be emerging out of the darkness
      • almost as if Goya wanted to convey the sinister or dark nature of human beings, being guided by sin and basic desires
      • showing the dark side of humans – the way he observed them during his life – the way he saw them, most of the time they exposed their flaws
      • showing what humans are capable of doing – to each other and to themselves
      • the darkness is therefore very closely linked to the mind, personality and the brain – it allows for isolation and focus on the lit subject – it doesn’t need to be treated as a signifier for evil, but could also be important within the space – the distinction between foreground and background, as well as ground and back/sides, is almost unachievable – all the components are concealed by the darkness – merge together – creating an almost vacuum or elevated/abstract space where Laws of Physics don’t apply – things just happen – people perform tasks unconsciously
        • the darkness also allows for a loss of structure – components within it are therefore allowed to move more freely and more unexpectedly 

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