Goya, Calero and Los Disparates in Washington

by Molly Kenney

Desolation, memory, and natural force are portrayed with a quiet power in a new exhibition at the American University Museum at the Katzen Art Center. Presented in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain, the exhibition, “Ricardo Calero. Goya. Disparates… Continuity of an Unfinished Project,” is the first U.S. appearance of three series together.

The exhibit features Los Disparates, a little-known series of 22 engravings by famous Spanish artist Francisco de Goya y Lucientes. Goya’s engravings, in black and white etching and polished aquatint, depict the bleakish characteristics of human nature. Displayed in a dim, curved room, the aspects of humanity feel as hidden away as Goya’s relatively unknown series.

The other two series, Disparates de Fuendetodos (2005) and Grabados de Luz (2006), were produced by contemporary Spanish artist Ricardo Calero in response to Los Disparates. The series both literally and figuratively revisit Goya’s birthplace of Fuendetodos, a small town in Aragon, Spain. The photographic elements of Calero’s series, namely pictures of the artist creating his works, seem superfluous and self-conscious in the wake of the other powerful media used. The most striking medium is bullet wounds, created by firing live ammunition at cream-colored canvasses prepared in various ways. This technique produces a starkly moving effect, echoing both the radical nature of Goya’s work and the quiet contemplation it influences.

The simplicity of the installation and the series’ color palate complements the detailed, powerful works of Goya and Calero. Disparity and continuity find harmony in this wonderful exhibit.

(“Ricardo Calero. Goya. Disparates… Continuity of an Unfinished Project” runs until Sunday, October 26 at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center.)

(The artwork is
Disparate Ridiculo — 1930 — by Francisco de Goya, which is part of the exhibition.)

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