Francisco de Goya’s etching and aquatint series “Los Caprichos”( published in 1799) is a view of both man’s power of spiritual creation and the failings of his own nature. And it is this insight into the reality of man which makes it possible for Goya to depict the human figure as beautiful and at the same time to caricature it. Such a composition of socio/political satyr, no doubt, was enlightening to the eighteenth-century rationalist, so confident about his ability to comprehend both man’s capabilities and limitations. Goya wanted to express, not represent. The plate by Goya entitled “The Sleep of Reason produces Monsters” ( first intended as title for the whole series of “Los Caprichos”) reads: “Imagination deserted by reason, begets impossible monsters. United with reason, she is the mother of all arts, and the source of their wonders.” In “Here Comes the Bogey-Man” (“Que viene el Coco”) Goya refers to the “Black Man” that children fear more than their own father as a symbol of the blind believe in authority ruling the naive and influenceable commoner. Needles to say that we have quite a few of those “black and fearful ghosts” in our culture, ever-present to create panic and fear – the consequence as in Goya’s time of superstition and bad education.
Andre Malraux in the essay “Drawings by Goya” at the
Prado Museum wrote in 1947:
The series of “Los Caprichos” is on loan from the Museo Fundacion Cristobal Gabarron, based in Valladolid, Spain with a New York outpost at The GF Carriage House Center for the Arts | 149 East 38th Street. New York, NY 10016 | USA || T. +1(212) 573-6968 | F. +1 (212) 808-9051
The Gabarron Foundation is supporting this exhibition, creating awareness of the importance of art, culture and science in the world of today.
The artists in “Here Comes the Bogey-Man” give tribute to and carry the spirit of Goya into the 21st century: in a direct appropriation from “Los Caprichos” as Yasumasa Morimura and Conrad Atkinson; in a mythological way as Rona Pondick, Ray Smith and Kimiko Yoshida; as socio/political satire as Yun-Fei Ji, Ray Smith and Carlos de los Rios; in a symbolic abstract context as Madeleine Hatz; and a pun on religious issues as Masami Teraoka.
There was rarely a time more appropriate to rethink the relationship of the artist and his society as in Goya’s time and ours. The novelist Emilia Pardo Bazan wrote in 1906 in an article published in La Lectura: The history of Goya’s thought and the progressive development of moral, social, philosophical and political ideas in his work is probably more interesting than his novelistic life. As in the work of Rona Pondick and Kimiko Yoshida there is a an expressive, abnormal and violent ugliness: Romantic Ugliness.
As in Goya’s time our daily news depict monstrosity, insanity, brutality, violent madness, perversity, torture, black magic, all influencing and coloring the work of the artists in “Here Comes the Bogey-Man.” Only momentarily do we find a ray of hope in Goya’s “Los Caprichos” as well as in the work of these contemporary artists: and it is a dawn of intellectual rather then emotional hope.