ANTONIO MUÑOZ MOLINA: Goya's Storm | Babelia



Goya He lived 82 years and since adolescence and probably since childhood he never stopped drawing. The youth letters to Zapater they are illustrated with drawings as fast and vigorous as the same letter, as procacious many times and as burlesque as the things he tells his soul friend. When he was in Italy on the compulsory study trip of every academic painter, he bought one of those tempting notebooks that are only there and filled it with sketches about the things he saw and those that crossed his mind, the same heads of monsters that cook recipes. Goya drew with perfect academic solvency the sketches for his cartons of popular scenes, but in his disciplined correction there was already a immediacy of direct observation of life, which would inevitably be attenuated later in the finished cards, and even more so in the tapestries. There is an amazing naturalness of gestures in that majo that bears the rhythm of a song with the palms, in a foretaste of flamenco attitude, or in that other one that is lying down and smokes watching the smoke with perfect indolence.

The drawing in Goya is a professional exercise and a relief of the spirit, a method of learning and an urgent testimony of what is in front of your eyes. In the Academy of San Fernando, in the royal collections, in the galleries and in the churches of Italy, Goya copied ancient statues and masterpieces of Velázquez, and by drawing them he learned to look at them better and understand how they were made, because the emulation was a Unsurpassed form of study. He who draws acquires precision, simplifies, synthesizes. By drawing with a brush and pen a naked woman on her back, Goya is observing a concrete body and at the same time repeats exactly the naked carnal of Venus on the back of Titian who would have studied in a reserved room of the Academy. With eyes trained to look at Velázquez and the ancient masters, Goya went out to look at that immense part of real life that the art of painting had not known or wanted to represent, except with the inflection of mockery and condescension with which Dutch artists and the authors of prints and prints reproduced scenes of popular life: street scenes, women who wash in the river and tend clothes and are disheveled by the wind, beggars who show their deformities with shameless merchandise, gluttonous clerics, prostitutes and Palestinians on the hunt for customers, mad madmen in the corralones of the madhouses, giants and big heads.

Goya began outlining figurines of popular types for the decorations of the Rococo palaces of the Old Regime and a few years later, when the French Revolution and then the invasion of the Napoleonic troops suddenly collapsed that world that seemed that it would last forever, was the chronicler of the transformation of the submissive people into picturesque, into rebellious human masses, into cannon fodder, into uniformized and obscured crowds by despotism and ignorance. He began as a court painter of impeccable academic credentials and only a few years later he fired with the fury of his drawings and his etchings the section of the drills of that world that collapsed among the rubble left behind by a storm of destruction to the that nobody had ever attended before. The chamber painter of a dusty wig king becomes very similar to a war photographer. The immediacy of the pencil, of the pen, of the brush soaked in ink doodling on paper is almost as efficient in its documentary capacity as a camera. More than half a century of ceaseless drawing leaves a trail of images as overwhelming by their sheer abundance as by the aim and fury of each of them. We go from one to another, year after year, through the vicissitudes of the painter's life and the history of the calamities of his country and the final sorrow of old age and exile, and it seems to us that we listen to the moment rumor of the pencil on the hard paper of the notebook, the rapid tearing of the pen, the visual shorthand of the brutality, the helplessness, the misfortune, the fright.

In the drawings there are faces of people who look with wide eyes what is intolerable to look at and other faces that witnesses cover with both hands to not see: they are also sometimes faces of animals harassed and terrified, of horses that look like those of the great canvas of May 2 in Madrid, horses besieged by humans wielding homicidal knives or by packs of wolves against which their helmets cannot defend them. Goya begins being in his first maturity an enlightened and satirical moralist, who censures vices, errors and abuses with a firm will to reform, and little by little, in sudden blows, as influenced by the disease as by the political disasters and then by the cataclysm of war, he becomes a visionary and a pamphleteer, a discouraged observer but also unbearable of what seems to be hopeless. He has seen that at the end of a horror there may be no relief, but another similar horror. The insolent barbarism of the French invaders, with their rifles and their sabers of the latest military technology, corresponds to the other barbarism of the Spaniards who exercise their own primitive forms of vindication against the enemy. After the war, the massacres, the mass graves, the hunger, do not come freedom or peace, but the vengeful despotism of Ferdinand VII, with his new cohorts of friars and his foul multitudes that lynch the liberals and tear off the tombstones of the Constitution. From the inside of the bell jar of absolute deafness, the horror of the world is seen more clearly: faces deformed by moans or screams that the witness cannot hear. The desolate and sick artist undertakes in his extreme old age the path of an exile that he knows irreversible. But in Bordeaux he does not rest either: he continues looking at everything around him, he starts to learn the avant-garde technique of lithography. At the bottom of the drawing of an old man with white beards who leans on two crutches, he writes, with his precise calligraphy as always: "I still learn."

The Prado Museum turns 200 and celebrates it with a great exhibition of Goya's drawings. In this report It has all the information of the sample with which the commemoration of the gallery is closed.

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