What kind of a person would honor their friend’s birthday with a work of art that depicts a strange, harrowing nightmare? Me, that’s who Don’t worry. The birthday boy is my very dear friend – artist, photographer, and blogger Fred Hatt, and I know he won’t be offended. Happy Birthday FRED!!
After years of friendship, and god knows how many conversations about art, I’m well aware of Fred’s favorites. And I can say with 100% certainty that the great Spanish painter Francisco de Goya is on his list of those who most inspire him. Fred is not alone in his admiration of Goya. Minvera Durham, director of Spring Studio – the very place where Fred and I first met – is also a huge fan of Goya. I must confess that Goya is one of those artists for whom my respect grew after becoming an artist’s model. A long time ago, Goya’s macabre painting Saturn Devouring his Son had seriously creeped me out, so I was reluctant to explore his other works. But with little more maturity and deeper understanding of art, I’ve come to appreciate Goya’s work much more.
In his later years, after suffering from illnesses, deafness, and a tumultuous political atmosphere in his native Spain, Goya created a series of dark, terrifying, mysterious works known as the “Black Paintings”. He did not intend them for public consumption. Instead, he painted them directly onto the walls of his house near Madrid, revealing his disturbed and paranoid mental state. This was a man in fear. Confusion. Despair. Revealing a severe disillusionment with humanity.
For this post I’ve chosen the Goya piece Asmodea, or “Fantastic Vision”, circa 1823. It depicts two people flying through the air, possibly witches, with soldiers aiming guns at them. Though art historians have analyzed this work, along with all the other Black Paintings, and speculated about it’s “meaning”, the truth is we don’t really know what the hell is going on here. And I personally prefer it that way. Must we know? Of course not. Enlarge the file for a better view and let the man’s potent expression speak for itself:
Again, a very happy birthday to you, Fred. Thanks for enriching my knowledge of art, challenging traditional notions of “beauty”, and celebrating the powers of all forms of visual communication