Saturday, June 14, 2014

Into the darkness with Goya…

Goya Artist Copy Painted By Lucy Inserra 2014

Hello everyone, it’s been awhile. After some setbacks in my personal life, I have finally started thinking and researching on my next series. I will keep you in suspense until I become closer to creating the series. I really enjoy the process that I go through when creating new piece of work. I have been looking at art work from surrealists, expressionists, and Gothic paintings recently. I want to combine all three into one painting or paintings.
The feeling or expression I want from the paintings is a little dark, eerie place of uncertain, and of a warning.  The first painter that came to mind is Francisco Goya (1746-1828). Goya was a bit of a mad man they say or he was afraid of insanity. I am interested in his “Black Paintings” he created on the walls of his studio. Goya is known for these series of paintings that he created in the years of 1819-1823 known as the black paintings for they are intense and haunting in style with eerie figures within the darkness of the paintings. I found these paintings captivating because of the expression they give off from viewing these paintings with the simple brush strokes of Goya. Well, not simple brush strokes but the expression use of the brush-the contour lines along with muted color palette. For Example, “Saturn Devouring His Son” (1819-23) was the artist copy I painted to get the feel of the paint brush style and I must say the feeling I received from the image was over powering- a evil presence. I heard from one of my college classes or even read it somewhere that this painting actually had the figure showing an erection but was blacked out due to deterioration of the painting. That would have made it even more evil, don’t you think?
The story behind the “Black Paintings” is interesting and really, it’s a look into the mind of an artist that was full of fear, lose, and depression. Francisco Goya was a Spanish Romantic Painter that was influenced by Manet, Picasso (of course) and Francis Bacon. Goya did portraits for Charles the III of Spain and Crown Prince Don Luis; later in 1789 he became Court Painter for Charles IV of Spain. Although, Goya was a success with kings and queens of Spain doing their portraits, his isolation fell upon him when he contracted a serious illness that caused him to go deaf in 1793. Goya became withdrawn and he would isolate himself due to the madness of becoming deaf. Goya soon went through hard times, by 1808 France had invaded Spain and he felt the world around him changing. Goya created the famous painting “Third of May 1808” of a depiction of Spain surrendering to France after a bloody battle. Then in 1812, his wife died, Goya became even more emotionally and mentally broken. During the times of 1812 to 1819, Goya continued with his portraits but he still liked the idea of isolation. In 1819, he bought a country house outside of Madrid that was previously owned by a deaf man. The house was known to be the “House of the Deaf Man” not because of Goya becoming deaf. This is where the Black paintings were created on the walls of this house.  Now, these paintings were NOT for public viewing, they were his personal creations of a mind of a mad man. I heard that he used a certain turpenoid that caused him to go mad because of the fumes in a closed off room. Goya created 14 paintings within the house; on the walls of the dining room and sittings rooms. The paintings reflect his fear of insanity and the outlook of humanity-cruel and evil. After surviving two illnesses (in which is not stated what they were), he was facing his own mortality as a human being. I read somewhere, that those paintings were later removed on the concrete that they were painted on and are displayed and preserved in museum in Spain.
The meaning behind the paintings:

Saturn devouring his son: A Greek myth of Titan Cronus aka: Saturn who feared that he would be overthrown from one of his children, so he would eat each one upon birth. Goya was giving off the expression of humans that would turn into cannibalism due to war, famine, or even madness. My personal input, the painting itself expresses the fear of death in a cruel way, for one the infant has the body form as a adult human, and Saturn has the look of a mad man. The cruel death of being eaten alive or dying within oneself, death of madness. The tight grip Saturn has represents there’s no escape in death’s grip. The darkness that surrounds the image of Saturn, lurking from one side of the painting, creeping into the light of his madness while his eating his son, starting with his head first. Madness I say madness.

Saturn Devouring His Son, c. 1819–1823. Oil mural transferred to canvas, 143cm x 81cm. Museo del Prado, Madrid.
Witches’ Sabbath (1821-1823): This painting is depicting witches gathered for some kind of ritual where all the witches are squeezed together for comfort. The witches’ faces are disfigured, ugly, and scared. There is a black goat figure on the left, draped with a dark cloth representing the devil or some kind of evil justice. To the right, there is a person draped in white clothes, and a look of surprised or unbelief. To the very far right, sits a woman draped in black although, she is sitting in a profile position, she gives off the expression of doubt or undecided for her arms are folded across her chest inserted in a hand warmer cloth. When viewing this painting, I immediately felt some kind of trail was going on; the innocent being prosecuted by something evil.
After some reading, Goya was depicting the witch trials in the 15th century where the witches were prosecuted for causing mass starvation, failing crops, and freezing weather. Including, spells, magic, and the rising of crimes. Curious, I started thinking why Goya would pick such imagery with the use of dual palette of colors, the size of the painting, and expression of brush stroke. The brush work is simple yet, strong with the thick lines and not so detailed figures as you would see on the popular portraits of significant history lessons. Goya must have been trying to express himself on these painting on how he viewed the world; judgmental, quick to die, dark, isolation, or maybe that he was looked at as different too, crazy, and a loner. Either way, he was a great painter. Crazy or not.
Witches' Sabbath, 1821–1823. 140cm × 438 cm, (55 × 170 inches), Museo del Prado, Madrid.
Two Old People Eating Soup: This Goya Painting is for you to tell me what you think when viewing this painting? What is the significance with the couple in the painting? Is there a story in it? What is the story about? What do you think Goya was thinking? Try to step into the darkness with Goya during his painting sessions in his deaf house in Madrid. Now, don’t go crazy but take a look through the eyes of a mad man who just simply feared death. At one point or another, we too will face our death….how do handle that?

additional paintings mentioned in blog.

The Third of May 1808, 1814. Oil on canvas, 266 х 345 cm. Museo del Prado