The heartbroken mother is still there, cradling her dead son 84 years later, as is the fallen soldier with his stigmata and the horse with its silent screams.
Yet the Guernica now on its way to a museum in the Basque Country is not Pablo Picasso’s monochromatic howl of anti-fascist fury, but a retelling of the work intended to help bring the original to the commercial city whose agonies beneath the waves of Germans and Italians The bombers inspired its creation and to denounce the later horrors of the Franco dictatorship.
The Basque artist Agustin Ibarrola painted Guernica Gernikara in 1977 as part of a campaign to bring Picasso’s masterpiece, perhaps the most famous painting of the 20th century, to Guernica after its long exile at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
But when he finally returned home to the hold of an Iberia 747 in 1981, Guernica ended up in Madrid, where remains to this day.
Ibarrola’s work had suffered a less public and peripatetic fate until last week, when it was taken from the artist’s studio in the Basque Country and exhibited in Annual international fair of contemporary art in Madrid (Bow).
The reappearance of the “Forgotten Guernica” and its 10 oil-painted canvas panels was widely publicized in the Spanish media and is now being re-evaluated and celebrated in its own right.
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum -Who last exhibited the painting 40 years ago- has bought it for € 300,000 thanks to contributions from the Basque Government, the Provincial Council of Bizkaia and the Bilbao City Council.
“This new acquisition returns to the public one of the most important works of the Basque artistic heritage of the 20th century,” the museum said in a statement. “The painting is not only linked to the museum’s own history, it will also significantly enrich Agustín Ibarrola’s presence in the collection.”
The museum pointed out that Guernica Gernikara was much more than a tribute, adding: “Its panels show some of the most iconic figurative motifs in Picasso’s work, but also elements from Ibarrola’s own creative universe, such as the geometric grids that symbolize his condemnation of the climate of oppression of the [Franco] dictatorship and its calls for freedom ”.
That oppression is most evident in the dark and menacing police officers who crowd the final panels of the painting, partially obscuring the word Guernica.
The gallery owner, José de la Mano, who stumbled across photographs of the painting and eventually managed to bring it to Arco, said that Guernica Gernikara told the story of the end of the dictatorship and of Spain’s transition to democracy after death. Franco. It also reflected the imprisonment and torture that Ibarrola suffered under the regime.
“Having an impression of Guernica in the 70s and 80s was a true declaration of intent”, told the online newspaper Público. “[Ibarrola’s] The interpretation 40 years later is, in fact, an interpretation of the transition. It is an image of social struggles, of bars and of the police: it interprets the end of the dictatorship. And don’t forget that [Ibarrola] he spent five years in prison. “
De la Mano added that while the painting could have cost well over 300,000 euros, Ibarrola’s family, who is now almost 91 years old, were delighted to see it publicly displayed again in the Bilbao museum after so many years.
“Going back to Bilbao closes the circle,” he said. “It was shown there in 1977 in a space called the Gray Room. It is very important for the family that this is their final destination ”.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism