Copyright Frans Gentils
"Estragos de la Guerra "
The Nightwatch interpretation by Frans Gentils.
At the time the Verbeke foundation suggested me to interpret Rembrandts The Nightwatch another historical painting, made by Goya, went through my mind: The Executions, a work of art wich represents an event that took place in Madrid 200 yaers ago.
It was the onset of a revolt of the Spanish people against Napoleon Bonaparte resulting in a bloody war wich would last for 6 years. The ressemblances and oppositions in both artworks are astounding.
They are both military nightly events implying the beginning of something important.
Goya uses the same colour and light settings and formal arrangements as Rembrandt does. The convict, whom is wearing a white shirt, is placed at the some depth and with equal light intensity as the overexposed girl. On the right-hand side the soldiers were placed in perspective to the right.
On the left-hand side some more nominal figures may be niticed. Also the ombination of darkness and the white and red colours is comparable in both artworks; it evokes a major dramatical tension.
Oppositions,nonetheless, are numerous. The Nightwatch is an operetta like presentation of selfsatisfied members of the wealthy middle class preparing priggishly for battle. Goya's The Executions on the contrary displays solemnity: the great commitment to and emotional consequences of the war by the artist resulted in a totally different approach of the subject. Never before the harmless common people were both displayed as victims and heroes of the force of arms.
Still Rembrandt was Goya's great example.
To give shape to the insurperable and incomprehensible nature of death and war I used, in imitation of Goya, some supernatural elements. At the top of the canvas, floating over a Goya inquisitional scene, I put enlarged fossil heads of prehistoric animals; at the bottom masks attempt to veil the anonymous, aggresive deed.
The result is a painted timeshifting collage in wich the oppositions as regards to content smear eachother, As the formal ressemblances in both works of art are striking I dare to state The Nightwatch is the forerunner of the Goya's The Executions and therefore joins in with the historical most important works on this theme: Picasso's Guernica and Goya's The Convictions.
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