Goya and Gittoes Theme of Change
Contemporary art has been used to express various issues in the society from time immemorial. It has been used to enhance change through an exposition of societal ills. This form of art has been extensively used by Australian artist George Gittoes and was also used by the 18th century Spaniard, Francisco de Goya.
George Gittoes has mainly focused on the areas worst hit by political violence such as Rwanda and Afghanistan and made his artworks based on the gory scenes that are characteristic of such areas. The artist uses illustrative pieces that can take one through the severely depressing stories of war that showcase a world characterized by brutality. In one of his artworks, named the “Assumption”, Gittoes depicts a cloud made up of ascending bodies that are badly mutilated. In this artwork, Gittoes is probably depicting the assumption that the dead victims of war are probably ascending towards heaven, albeit in a very graphic manner (Schulze, Para 2). Gittoes, who will be receiving the Sydney Peace Prize later this year, is renowned for exposing injustices in war-torn areas of the world, having set up his current base in Jalalabad. Some other works of art by Gittoes that are famous for exposing the dark side of war are “A Rwandese Woman with Nose and Breast Hacked off” and “A Boy Standing in Front of Skulls” (Rasmussen Para 9). All these painitingd by Goettes showcase the war stories in such a way that initiates a sense of need for change to any viewer. With reality depicted in such a horrific way, change becomes the ultimate solution.
Francisco Goya (1746-1828) is a very important Spanish artist (The MET, Para 1). He was a widely traveled painter who worked under various monarchs at different times. Goya’s paintings have been renowned for castigating the eighteenth century superstitions as well as the powers of bigotry. His work is deeply characterized and notably influenced by the social events that happened at the time of his living. Goya lived during the age of the Enlightenment, a period that saw the world that favored independent thinkers, and those not easily influenced by societal doctrines. One of Goya’s famous paintings is The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (c. 1797-1799). The painting portrays a sleeping man encircled by bizarre creatures. The creatures in the painting represent the monsters in his title, and the man in sleep, the sleep of reason. The animals are symbolic and denote the various evils found in the society today, a factor achieved though bats and owls. A lynx suggests that man should be able to differentiate between the good and the bad as a lynx can see in the dark. A goat-headed bat is symbolic of witchcraft, a trade that was characteristic of the society then. Overly, the painting depicted the many troubles found in the society, alongside the various malignant and evil practices that have been made common as well.
Another important painting by Goya is the “An Heroic feat! With Dead Men! (1810)”. This painting was in response to the invasions that took place in Spain, and the atrocities that were committed. The painting depicts three mutilated male corpses, which are also castrated, and tied to a tree. This is a gory depiction of the atrocities of the invasions. The paintings depict the beautiful masculine forms that are mutilated, a factor that suggests that war destroys beauty. The Third of May, 1808 (1414) is an artwork by Goya that depicts the day Spain was invaded by Napoleon’s army, starting the Peninsula war and ending the reign of King Charles. The painting is a depiction of French soldiers executing Spaniards who are unarmed. Bodies of massacred men lie down as some yet-to-be-shot soldiers stand in waiting. The executioners are obscured. The painting is a depiction of the violence, oppression and brutality of war (The Art Story, Para 15).
Goittes and Goya are two artists who have been able to bring out the brutality of war to the society, in a bid to drive the theme of change. Goittes is a current artist who has used the recent atrocities in Rwanda, Afghanistan, Bosnia and other counties to the fore, using his artworks. Goya, on the other hand was an eighteenth century artist who did the same. The two artists, though hundreds of years apart have aptly used their masterpieces to showcase a society laden by ills, and that deserves to change.
Rasmussen, Sune Engel. George Gittoes and the art of war. The Sydney Morning Herald, April 11, 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/good-weekend/george-gittoes-and-the-art-of-war- 20150409-1mhay4.html. Accessed 30 May 2017.
Schulze, Troy. Art Review: George Gittoes at the Station Museum. Houston Press, June 14, 2011, http://www.houstonpress.com/arts/art-review-george-gittoes-at-the-station- museum-6388106. Accessed 30 May 2017.
The Art Story. Important Art by Francisco Goya. The Art Story, 2017, http://www.theartstory.org/artist-goya-francisco-artworks.htm#pnt_1. Accessed 30th May 2017.
The MET. Francisco de Goya (1746–1828) and the Spanish Enlightenment. The MET, 2017, http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/goya/hd_goya.htm. Accessed May 30, 2017.