August 3, 2021

An iconic oil painting on Franco's repression arrives in Spain 73 years after painting it Castelao | Culture

An iconic oil painting on Franco's repression arrives in Spain 73 years after painting it Castelao | Culture



Castelao was almost blind for long distances. In small format he wrote and drew without difficulty, but behind his round glasses he was unable to comprehend without distortions the complete vision of a large canvas. "Since childhood, due to tuberculosis, he had a very weak health, and in his eyes he suffered from chorioretinitis." I could hardly see, "explains Miguel Anxo Seixas Seoane, a scholar of the most distinguished intellectual figure of Galicia in the 20th century and author of the biography in three volumes that will see the light in as many deliveries of the Editorial Galaxia between January 2019 and January 2021. Seixas is also curator of the exhibition about the artist that will be inaugurated on Friday at the Cidade da Cultura (Gaiás , Santiago de Compostela), and in which will be seen for the first time in Spain a painting that is a symbol of Franco's repression: A derradeira leición do mestre (The teacher's last lesson), a vertical canvas of two meters high by 1.36 wide that, without doubt, his biographer comments, he had to paint "by plots", due to his illness. Alfonso Manuel Daniel Rodríguez Castelao (Rianxo, A Coruña, 1886-Buenos Aires, 1950) painted oil in 1945, in his exile in the capital of Argentina, and the work never left the country until now.

A man lies collapsed on the ground, like a large, dark foreshortening, at the foot of two old trees without branches and before two children in white shirts who cry in the middle of a desolate landscape. Remember to The disasters of war of Goya, but that of Castelao is the Civil War and the dead person who appears portrayed strongly resembles Alexandre Bóveda, republican politician, nationalist, friend and companion of the artist in the implementation of the Statute of Autonomy of Galicia approved in plebiscite on 28 June 1936

Bóveda, who died at the age of 33, on August 17, 1936, "was not a teacher," recalls Castelao's curator Maxistral, the Gaiás exhibition, which is also the vice president of the foundation named after the writer, politician and cartoonist. But in the picture of this great "icon maker" appears as a "symbol" that "speaks of those who have an exemplary behavior, men who give their example to the end" and to the end. Before the court that tried him, Bóveda declared that he worshiped Galicia "beyond" his "own death": "If the court understands that for this endearing love the death penalty should be applied to me, I will receive it as a sacrifice for it" , He said.

A derradeira leición [o lección, en gallego normativo] do mestre, with the sense that "derradeira" has "definitive", beyond "last", is not the most meticulous painting of the artist, but one of the most emblematic. An icon that in its first version, from 1937, was a drawing that was part of the album Galicia Martyr (1937), a collection of prints that, together with those of Atila in Galicia (1937) and Militiamen (1938), made Castelao in Valencia, after moving with other intellectuals to the city where the Government of the Republic was installed. Three days before July 18 he had traveled to Madrid to deliver the result of the Statute of Autonomy in the Cortes and when he wanted to return he could not find a train to return.

"He endured in Madrid until November and saved his life by a miracle," says the curator of Castelao Maxistral, where oil is the pillar on which a show honoring the masters of the Second Republic is based, their efforts in precarious literacy to children and their attempt at pedagogical renewal, truncated by war. Among 92 pieces and documents, in addition to the box given over the next six months by the Centro Galicia in Buenos Aires, the exhibition also includes another 40 illustrations that the cartoonist and caricaturist devoted in his life to compulsory school, which then only reached the nine years old.

From that original drawing that eight years later was transformed into a large-format painting, the number six of Galicia Martyr, thousands of reproductions were made in magazines and albums, and in 1939 the Republic turned it into a seal of 90 cents, blue. Castelao himself undertook between 1937 and 1938 a long trip that took him to Moscow, New York, Havana, Montevideo and finally, Buenos Aires. Everywhere he dedicated himself to describing to the public the horrors of war through the original drawings that he carried in his folders and which are now preserved in the Museum of Pontevedra. When he marched, in the great capitals the printed albums continued to be sold to obtain "help for the Spanish republicans" and there were even versions in Chinese and Japanese. On the day of his death, on January 7, 1950, the General Press Office of the Franco government sent to the media the slogan of obviating in the obituary any "mention" of "the albums of drawings of the civil war."

With an increasingly blurred view, in 1945 Castelao decided to paint the oil to celebrate in the Ourense Center of Buenos Aires a commemoration that he himself established in his exile in Argentina, the Día dos Mártires Galegos. The date could not be other than August 17. The day when Alexandre Bóveda, Popular Front candidate for the province of Ourense, had been killed for "treason".

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