The blog Sing Better English posted about a composition in honor of the 2017 anniversary of Picasso’s painting Guernica. “Things we don’t consciously notice that speak straight to our hearts…” the blogger writes.
The blog entry is fascinating.
The first performance referenced is riveting. I understand not a word of Spanish (I’m admitting an ignorance.), but the emotion rings through and I tasted a bit of the leaving and the sorrow. The classic art work as a backdrop is not an accident.
According to the blog, the duo performs two works, synthesized, so to speak, for the new composition.
A little digging after reading the blog and first hearing the composition unearthed a site of Latin American Literary Criticism and a connection between Cesar Vallejo (whose work the song first references) and Picasso. Vallejo viewed Guernica, which influenced Vallejo’s collection of poems Spain, Take This Cup from Me, a “dialog between Picasso and Vallejo within a rupture that they create in order to build a new humanity. Both artists erase the concept of enemy and focus on the victims instead, raise the notion of politics from mere ideology to a natural human preoccupation and strive to rebuild the humanity with the people’s art as its fabric since it is humanity, not politics, that nourishes their art, and it is the people’s art that sustains the humanity.”
The duet also references Miguel de Molina, whose life was radically changed by the Spanish Civil War, according to a post by surinenglish.com: “At the outbreak of the Civil War, the controversial singer showed an allegiance to the Republicans, which made him a target of the regime. Following his arrest, the singer was imprisoned because of his association with the Loyalists, and for his homosexual tendencies, which he openly flouted. On his release from custody, Molina headed to Argentina, where he became a success of the stage and screen, although his homosexuality would eventually see him banished from the country. He set up home in Mexico, but returned to Argentina after a pardon from Eva Perón, and continued to enjoy a successful career there until he retired in 1960.
Miguel de Molina never returned to live in Spain. He died in Buenos Aires in 1993.”
Now the composition is anchored for me, even minus a translation. The combination of the force of the music, the presence of the art and a dip into the history of the persons referenced, made this a highlight of a Sunday evening.
And, the duo’s peroformance was only one of several to honor the impact of Picasso’s work. I have been fortunate to be able to stand in a room in which that painting was displayed. It was crowded, naturally, but hushed, and I could only imagine the horror unleashed in the painting, I’m grateful, too, for chancing to come upon the work again and one of the tributes to it.