Return of Saturn
The despair of humanity. Goya’s black paintings have always been something I gravitated towards. I’m not claiming to be an expert, but to me, Goya was not a cynic, he fought cynicism. He took images of authority and made them disoriented. He took images of hope and made them hopeless. His paintings were a warning — this is what happens when monstrousness rules. This is the worst of us. He painted his darkness in order to face it down, although some just described him as insane and bitter towards humanity.
It’s the art of “feeling” gone wrong. He’s saying: do not be complacent, and instead, be vigilant in fighting against complacency. His black paintings are showing us the worst, so does that mean we’ve only forgotten what it is to be great? Greatness seems to be a word still relevant today, and still that thing so far out of grasp.
What was that promise Trump made: Make America Great Again?
Have we ever been great? If so, how do we get there … again? If not, how do we get there anyway?
When I see this painting, Saturn Devouring his Son, I can’t help but see us. This painting is horrifically terrifying. Goya left no note behind to explain this image. He does not say who was eating who. Some art critics have said it represented the Spanish State, devouring it’s own citizens. I can see that, because I can us right now, and it looks an awful lot like Trump is devouring us whole. Willing to eat us in the face of failure. Ripping off our heads to save himself. He represents the worst of us. When I see him, I see a monster.l
Then again, you could stand any and all darkness in for the giant, wide-eyed, frenzied cannibal. It could be our history catching up with us — a long history of destroying anything standing in our way. Of using and taking what we need to make our own lives better. You could make a David and Goliath out of cops and protesters. You could even put my whiteness in as the looter of other souls. This painting is unnerving because we can all find something familiar in it.
It reminds us where we have already been.
If we want to go somewhere new, we cannot continue to line up for the same buffet.