Remark of the week


By Alberto Servat


Only a few paintings have provoked feelings so encountered in me, such as fascination, fear, and even guilt. One of them is “The Raft of the Medusa” by Théodore Géricault (1791-1824), currently hanging in the Louvre Museum. My first impression every time I observe or even remember this painting, is a deep fascination for the perfection of the whole (content and composition), that is the perfect communion between the pictorial production, and the anecdote painted. But, as I stop to look at the details, there is like a riot of feelings inside me going from dark fear to vertigo, and even horror. The painting exposes of the critical moment lived by the fifteen adrifted sailors that survived the shipwreck of the Medusa – a frigate that suffered a dreadful accident in 1816 in the coasts of Senegal – when they sighted the ship that was finally coming to rescue them. So, in despite of the whirl of fears it may cause on us, it is all about the happy outcome of the odyssey.



And yet, why are those feelings of uneasiness remain? Perhaps, the viewer feels this way not by making the whole analysis of the images, but by the detail of the primary image on the left of a thoughtful old man holding the nude body of a younger man – probably just dead. That image impact is unsurpassable, maybe inspired in the Passion, but without the sacred majesty. In a preliminary sketch, the old man covers his face with his hand, which overshadows the dreadful feeling to give place to human suffering – more comprehensible.  Fortunately – in the finished masterpiece – the author decides to unveil the old-man face, providing us the image of desolation itself.

Far in time and space, I get that same feeling once again while facing one of Margarita Checa’s sculpture, called “The Shipwreck”, which is only one of the pieces being currently showcased at Lucia de la Puente Gallery.

There, in a totally different format, three children – onboard of a drifted boat – seem to ignore the danger they are being exposed to. The desolation, in this case, does not come from them. After all, they are just children. Yet, the feeling is the very same. So then, we turn ourselves into the old man of the “Medusa”, and join the children along their dreadful odyssey.

This masterpiece, as exquisite as the rest, exhibits itself enhancing even more its dramatic feature.  And by evoking it, a strange feeling emerges, as the one evokes by the version of the “Lord of the Flies”, never filmed by Stanley Kubrick.

Since it is, in fact, the maddening “drifted” situation what links these two masterpieces being so different. Géricault’s as well as Checa’s shipwreck, and everything what’s macabre in both pieces, reach unexpected levels of beauty.