Sunday, July 20, 2008

Art Imitates Life?

This is one case in which you can't tell if life imitates art or if it is the other way around.

The current Spanish government, an alleged democracy that never really broke clean from Franco's regime (numerous Francoist ministers continued with business as usual after the death of their leader) keeps Basque political prisoners in jail long after they have completed their sentences.

So what can we expect from the request by the Basque society to change the location of the painting that depicts one of the darkest hours in their history? Nothing but excuses, absurd excuses.

This is the must recent chapter in the saga of a painting that has been abducted by the very same government that ordered the bombing of Gernika, a government that even today refuses to acknowledge Spain's part in this war crime, let alone apologize. Two media outlets have reported the note so far, here you have the version by The Telegraph from England:

Pablo Picasso's Guernica 'too fragile to move'

By Fiona Govan, Madrid Correspondent

Last Updated: 9:33PM BST 20/07/2008

Pablo Picasso's famous masterpiece Guernica is in a "stable but serious" condition, art experts have concluded after an exhaustive study.

The monochrome canvas that epitomises the horror of modern warfare had "suffered a lot and requires special care," said the head of restoration at Madrid's modern art museum.

The conclusions made following the first detailed examination of the artwork in ten years will disappoint those in the Basque country who hoped that the iconic artwork would one day be returned to its spiritual home.

Officials in the Basque country have long argued that the piece which depicts the destruction of the Basque village of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War should be displayed in the region.

But curators have declared that its state is so fragile that any attempt to move it from its current location at Madrid's Reina Sofia would be impossible.

Even more restoration on the canvas would risk further damage.

Picasso was inspired to create the work after reading reports of the atrocity carried out by German bombers supporting the Right-wing forces of Gen Francisco Franco.

The attack on April 26, 1937, levelled the historic town during a busy market day causing an estimated 1,650 deaths.

The painting also symbolises the struggle for democracy in Spain. Picasso arranged for the Museum of Modern Art in New York to keep the work for as long as Franco was in power.

The black and white canvas, which is 11ft tall and 26ft wide, was finally moved to Spain in 1981, six years after the death of the dictator, and has remained in Madrid moving to its current location at the Renia Sofia in 1992.

So let me get this straight, Spaniards order the bombing, Spaniards cover up the crime and Spaniards decide the Guernica should not be moved to Euskal Herria. Whoa, that is what I call fair and square.

Oh, by the way, did you know that it was Francisco Franco who ushered Sophia to her position as queen of the Spaniards? Yes, that is where the museum gets its name, from the wife of Juan Carlos, Francisco Franco's king, the one in charge of keeping things "tied, neatly tied".

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