The Mallorcan painter Miquel Barceló He has been traveling almost continuously to the Asian continent, Thailand, Myanmar... so it's not strange that the inspiration for the work he presented this Thursday, the Splendor of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who has illustrated with 72 watercolors, arose "in a Buddhist setting, next to the Himalayas, in the north of India, the light and the colors that I have drawn come from there", said the artist in the presentation , at the Goethe Institut of Madrid. This Oriental varnish has been applied to a work that shows impulses "that we all share: desire, risk, power, god and his absence, and in a language of fabulous metaphors".
Barceló made it clear from the beginning that his was not a work that literally followed the difficult text of one of the classics of universal literature, the philosophical poem that addresses the myth of the pact with the devil to get what you want, to change to deliver the soul. "I'm not a standard illustrator." These same drawings could serve, for example, for the Quixote"He added, although he has noticed previous versions, such as Delacroix did, among the powerful images that have been diluted in water, for example, that of a planet that looks like the Earth surrounded by monkeys, a row of blind people with their canes or a giant eye whose eyelashes are, in reality, strange beings. "None of this appears in Goethe's text".
In this fascinating world of shadows and shapeless figures, there is also room for humor, like a self-portrait of the artist, "why not, is something that came out?". Other faces are those of Mephistopheles and Faust, double-page, that seem to merge with one another. Mediterranean touches have also been allowed, with a boat that resembles a llaut Majorcan.
In a beautiful bilingual edition (Spanish and German) published by Galaxia Gutenberg, the volume, of 27 by 36.8 centimeters and 256 pages, of which almost a third are illustrations, covers the first part of Splendor, which Goethe wrote in 1806, although it was not published until two years later, when he was 59 years old. The director of the publishing house, Joan Tarrida, said that, "after a while talking about doing the Splendor"With Barceló, he received several illustrations on his cell phone sent by the artist in the summer of 2017." Later, when Miquel began to deliver his watercolors, they had to find a place in the book. "Then came decisions as if he should draw more or if you had to reformulate some of the ones made.
It is not the first time that Barceló (Felanitx, 1957) dives into a masterpiece to imagine it, as he did with the Divine Comedy, of Dante, at the beginning of this century, a path, that of illustrating universal titles, that pleases him more and more: "I have done too many exhibitions, but I need books and doing them is like a garden in motion, it does not stop" . The painter had read Splendor "once and perhaps diagonally", but for this work it was helped by a French edition that has been reread several times.
The second part of Splendor illustrated by Barceló will come out approximately in a year. Goethe let five years pass until the continuation ended, published, however, after his death in 1832. "That second Splendor is postmodern, "said the artist," so my interpretation will have a very different tone, "he added, before assuring that of course he feels identified with the protagonist of the work:" Painting is selling your soul every day. ?, but, at the same time, we all carry a Mephistopheles inside ".