on Goya

Saturn Devouring His Son, 1819-1823


Francisco de Goya is, along with very few, a veritable re-inventor of visual arts. His descent into depression, magisterially tabulated by his paintings, stands as the most embossed, limpid and surviving documentation of creative mania and artistic pessimism. One needn’t go further than drawings such as El Agarrotado and El Sueño de la razon produce monstruos to realise how acutely stricken he was with his own demons, and one would need to go as far as La romería de San Isidro in order to understand that his demons were not merely of the inner kind. Goya’s progression from an orderly, august form of painting that was most apposite for the Romantics of his time, to a deeper, astringent use of colour and blurred strokes, which annealed the asperity of the thoughts that informed his paintings, is one such progression that is of interest and should be studied by any creative with manic challenges, such as myself. It also much mirrors the path of his compatriot, Picasso; while Goya descended into a more agonic expressionism, Picasso went into six different styles over a series of collections.

Giant Seated in a Landscape – 1818

Although Saturn Devouring His Son is one of my favoured paintings of his (since the symbolic interpretations are nearly boundless), I did not write a specific composition on this painting; in fact, I’m still trying to gather forces in order to write a long, contextual and cybertextual composition on Goya’s work, likely divided into multiple parts. Goya’s obsession with giants, however, reminded me of an old composition I wrote and never put up on the blog (although its destination was, initially, the blog). Part of the BEACONS poems, it was written with the partial, synthetic perspective of a child, looking at “giant things”.



Albeit from mid-2019, thus, a bit overly aged, it somewhat maintains my general style of writing, while the same cannot be said by anything earlier than that. It was, I think, perhaps the first composition I made with the style I have now. I hope to have more compositions made apropos Goya in future, since he is, without a semblance of doubt, one of the painters that most deeply inspire me.

Thank you, and have a lovely Sunday!,
João-Maria.

Published by João-Maria

A tick clinging to the bristles of a purple boar.

28 thoughts on “on Goya

  1. Super interesting piece! I saw the Saturn Devouring his Son in a recent symposium I was a part of. They were examining how people used their attention on more of the “disturbing” art pieces of history for lack of a better term

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, James!
      T’is true that Goya’s work is among the oddest out there, but I wouldn’t call it disturbing, perhaps not to the exception of Saturn Devouring His Son and The Garroted Man. “Disturbing” in the sense of violent, at least. But I also don’t think, for instance, that Goya has more protagonism in the world of Painting than, say, Van Gogh and Mondrian, or Picasso and Giotto, or Basquiat and Gauguin, and none of these have disturbing of violent paintings, at least not in the same measure as Goya, and thus, I don’t think people specifically focus more on disturbing art pieces; not at all, actually.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, fairly on the mark too.

        It gets more interesting when you delve into other regions of embodied cognition and how it affects daily thought.

        One such connection is in political views. Interestingly, more conservative people spend more attentional resources on “aversive” stimuli, such as a picture of a roach, a picture of someone punching and old guy, etc.

        More liberally oriented people, in a political sense, spend more attentional resources on appetitive stimuli (puppies, butterflies, etc.).

        So then, you could look at it from multiple levels. 1) how does an individual view more violent paintings such as this and 2) how it has maintained it’s popularity through various cultures based on dominant cultural beliefs and how they connect to political norms.

        Then, one could look at where it retained popularity despite a more liberal cultural set of beliefs and actions. Then, they could look at why it maintained popularity despite that.

        I’m rambling now, but super interesting stuff here.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, yes. I’m a bit politically grey, as in, that is not one such hue that I search for in things, but I can oft detect it, once it’s pungent enough. I’m more given to pastorals and bucolic art, and the reason for that eludes me greatly, since I’m more the “type” that would appreciate surrealism and expressionism. The aversive/appetitive dichotomy, especially visually, also must require some anthropological and/or social coalescence in order to materialise; for instance, the Japanese have the longest and perhaps richest relationship with visual arts in the world, vastly due to their easy access to various pigments, and their associations to erotica and violent imagery, as well as horror and shock imagery, vastly differ from ours, and certainly must carry other associations as well, even in the political spectrum.
        And you’re always free to ramble, James. If we’re not here to talk, there’s no reason to be here.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Haha very true.

        Yeah, definitely some interesting points. And then appetitive and aversive have their own associations that probably exist within a culture.

        Let’s return to the Japan example. They have a much more open sexual culture, so some sexual images that might be primarily aversive to people in America might be appetitive to more people in Japan, although it is probably more complex than that and it is making some assumptions/extensions.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Absolutely. And there’s also a division between the erotic and the pornographic that is very malleable between cultures, insofar as some only consider one denomination and not the two.
        Now, I don’t know much about America, but I suppose it’s the most equalised of places in those associative regards, since it fuses so many different cultural origins. It’s a great place to have an augmented view on what each culture considers transgressive or acceptable, both in terms of Art and in social spectrums.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yes, very much agreed.

        Yeah, it makes studying social psychology in America such an interesting experience, especially since I was in New York University at the time.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The Nephilim are entirely new to me; I learnt of them through Diablo, actually. It’s often such an obscure piece of christian mythology. But it is absolutely fascinating, and I ought to learn more about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Just listened to Terence McKenna describing an experience on the drug, DMT, and parts of this poem remind me of it. “Just things made of just other tiny specs of things…” Are you on something? Just joshing. My hands are sore from applauding you. Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was entirely sober when I wrote it, as I am with all my compositions! I used to smoke while I wrote them, but I also quite smoking. It’s quite a bland existence, now. I’m hopeful the madness herein will provide even madder poems!
      Thank you, Ron, you’re input is always very valuable to me.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Seeing Goya with new eyes. Your words … astringent colour and blurred lines annealed the asperity of the thought…actually made me scroll up.

    Thoughts got taken in by ‘Just things’. Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a fascinating and wonderful introduction, not only to the artist Francisco de Goya, but to your work João-Maria and style of writing. I can’t help but think astrologically whenever I see images of Saturn as this year I’ve entered my 2nd Saturn Return. Your poem, like many of your words here, needs to be re-read many times, for one cannot digest such richness with one sitting alone!

    A writer explores many lens before central ones are chosen and one of those for me has been Jungian. I say this because when seen through Jung’s lens our demons become archetypal and “Shadow” meaning all that we reject in ourselves is relegated to the darkest corners of psyche. Working with demons, instead of rejecting them, is one way through the madness and hell of being possessed by them. For “Shadow” possession I believe is a very real thing!

    To dialogue with own dark material is a gift to the world! Such as Goya was! That he truly entered his own canvas and spoke with those parts of himself up must have been liberating. Yes, he lost his conscious hearing but unconsciously, his hearing “within” was deeply tuned in. A psychic compensation for sure! Thank you for sharing your exquisite work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Deborah!, I’m happy that you’ve made it here.
      I must admit, I’m not too cognizant of astrology; whenever I see Saturn, I tend to think of the god, even when the planet is being accited. That’s likely due to my classical upbringing. Apropos the density of my words, I can’t truly hear the end of it, haha. I lucubrate arduously on lighting my compositions, but I does heavily depend on what it is I’m saying, and whether or not I know what I’m saying, even.

      I’ve read some Jung and Freud and although they can be concomitant in many aspects, I tend to gravitate towards the former, as you. Part of what inspired me so greatly about your website was your Jungian approach to artistic production and even life. It’s such a rich, boundless factor to explore, and I can’t wait to learn further.

      I agree with you in regards to a covenant with our own deceptions and foggings, insofar as they don’t become monomanias, obsessions, substitutes for lack, because in such instance, one may be trudging mires unsure of a way back. I’ve lost folks who cared not for the way back, and, when the leather lacing of nights grips thickly around my neck, I too disregard all manners of return. I just never made it far enough, thankfully.
      To be attuned with darkness, however, is a gift indeed, as you put it. It’s the bevel of our spirit, our unfettering, and the establishing of that colloquy is what inspires so much of what I write, and even how I write it.

      Thank you for stopping by, it truly means a lot.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. My honour, Steven. Your blog is terribly interesting, I must perscrutate it further, and I’m glad I was able to add something into your vault of rare knowledge.

      Like

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