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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Got Goya?

    Got Goya?

    More than 100 years before Dali and H.R. Giger, Francisco De Goya was paving the way for today’s terrifying masterpieces of surreal art.

    One of the most haunting images of his career, the decrepit Saturn devouring the bloody torso of his own child, still resonates with art crowds around the world. Much of “”Goya’s Mastery in Prints: Los Disparates,”” the UA Museum of Art’s second installment of Goya’s prints, was created in the same vein.

    Although these pieces of art are merely black-and-white etchings, the ghostly figures and gruesome monsters are just as unsettling as many of Goya’s paintings. While the etchings at first may appear more subdued, as they don’t have an array of dark colors or glistening oils, the minimalist approach makes the scenes even creepier.

    In one scene, “”Disparate desenfrenado (Abducting horse),”” a horse literally twists its body 180 degrees while it’s bucking in the air, biting the person riding it. Double images of monsters that are also mountains hide in the background, much like a modern Dali painting. Because many of Goya’s works were confusing and literary, scholars later pieced together bits of legends to explain the images put forth. In this case, Goya is telling us about a man that turned into a horse after he abducted the woman he loved and killed her husband.

    In another strange and demonic etching, “”Disparate desordenado (Disorderly Nightmare),”” two people sharing the same back like Siamese twins point at a man whose face is droopy and contorted. In “”Disparate volante (Winged nonsense)”” a griffin-like creature with a head like a camel flies across a desolate sky carrying two struggling people on its back.

    Many of the 22 selections in “”Los Disparates”” were influenced by Goya’s dark period known as the “”Black Paintings,”” when an aging Goya on the brink of madness deviated from his more upbeat and colorful court paintings he produced in the early 1800s.

    But even though they were created during this dark period, many of the etchings address more worldly matters such as the traditional Spanish carnival, politics and war.

    In addition to featuring political figures like Ferdinand VII, who ruled Spain from 1813-1833, Goya also took swings at Napoleon. In “”Disparate general (General riddle),”” a small figure carrying a sword approaches an amorphous mass of people, all engrossed in different activities such as reading and holding kittens and babies. The people are squished together so you can’t tell where one begins and one ends, symbolizing the disorganized Spain during Napoleon’s attack in the War of Independence.

    In these prints, Goya colors in most everything with a series of lines, focusing mainly on the characters and excluding all but the most crucial background images. Thus, the subjects appear to protrude from the darkness, bodies stunningly detailed but faces unrealistic and distorted. Critics have labeled Goya as a precursor to the expressionist movement, but this exhibition shows he predated many more popular art forms such as surrealism, fantasy and postmodernism.

    “”Goya’s Mastery in Prints: Los Disparates”” is currently exhibited at UAMA. It is free to the public.

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