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Goya comes to town

Eighty two original works by Spanish master Francisco Goya, are on display here for the first time in India. Presented by the Institute in collaboration with the National Gallery of Modern Art, the exhibition is titled, Goya Chronicler of all Wars: The Disasters and War Photography.

art and culture Updated: Jul 17, 2011 02:45 IST
Damini Purkayastha

The dark basement gallery of the Instituto Cervantes has become a treasure trove for art lovers. Eighty two original works by Spanish master Francisco Goya, are on display here for the first time in India. Presented by the Institute in collaboration with the National Gallery of Modern Art, the exhibition is titled, Goya Chronicler of all Wars: The Disasters and War Photography. It has on display Goya’s copper etchings series Los Desastres (The Disasters) on the Spanish war against Napoleon’s troops (1808-1814).

Goya’s vision
“Usually the works are displayed as per their numerical sequence, but we decided to keep them according to the different themes that Goya captured, the condition of women during the war, exodus of people, the battle front and even the hunger,” explains Juan Bordes, the curator of the exhibition.

Small, yet minutely detailed, the etchings recreate some of the most horrific scenes from the war. The exhibition begins with the first and last frame of the narrative — ‘Gloomy Premonitions of What Must Come to Pass’ and ‘Nothing’. They depict Goya’s attitude towards the war, that all that anguish and suffering actually amounts to nothing.

“Goya was among the first artists to depict war impartially. Historically, the frontier was depicted heroically, but in his work, neither the masses nor Napoleon’s army are shown as heroes,” says Bordes. These works were hidden until Goya’s death as he was afraid of prosecution.

Along one end of the gallery, are sketches of human faces, contorted with pain, misery, anger and every other human emotion. “These are digitally enhanced frames from Goya’s much smaller works, and they highlight how important the minutest detail was to the artist,” explains the curator.

Photography and Goya
Another aspect of the exhibit is War Photography. A running video installation depicts scenes from the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) that are almost identical to those Goya sketched over a century ago. Near the video are large photos of wounded German soldiers from World War one. “This helps understand how close to photography Goya’s works actually were. The sense of immediacy and impartial depiction is one of the reasons why people often considered him a precursor to photography,” adds Bordes.

Come this way
What: The Disasters and War Photography
Where: Instituto Cervantes, 48, Hanuman Road
When: July 15 to September
Time: 11am to 7pm

Nearest Metro Station: Rajiv Chowk on the Blue and Yellow Line

‘Ravages of War’ and ‘And this too’ are part of Goya’s The Disasters series, which was made between 1810 and 1815. One depicts bombings on civilians, while the other shows the exodus of women.