Goya: The Visionary Painter of Human Nature, a Grotesque Satirical Existentialism
By Béa Aaronson
Goya the Visionary projected in his paintings, drawings, etchings, aquatints, and lithographs the desperate spiritual quest of the West. As a romantic soul, Goya was attracted to the dark side. He wove a macabre thread throughout his work. His frightening visions only reflect what we know is true but do not dare face. His chiaroscuro is a metaphor of a human inner fight between reason and the irrational. The violent contrast of his light and dark visual dramas enhances his perception of a doomed human condition as a grotesque form of existentialism.
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From the psychological truth to the caricatural and satirical ridicule of his portraits, from the enticing beauty of his nudes and seemingly peaceful landscapes to the exacerbated violence of his depictions of war, from his strong and vulnerable self portraits filled with doubt and interrogation to the nightmarish and fantasmagorical power of his flights of fancy, Goya has played all the variations of the human scale, thrusting a dissonant chord within the arts, heralding German expressionism and the macabre bitter taste of the 20th century.
He freed art from its servile realism and superficial pleasure-giving duty. He freed colors from their merely descriptive role, and brushstrokes from their slick invisibility. He freed composition and subject matter from their incarcerating canonized rules, and it is this liberation that paved the way for modern artistic developments such as Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, and Surrealism.
I invite you to rediscover Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, man of Aragon, the last of the Old Masters and the first of the Moderns, the painter who painted with a knife in his heart, the painter whose images bleed even in black and white, the painter who dared venture and probe the human wound, and by doing so opened the way to Modern Art.