For the first time in Bulgaria is displayed the cycle of engravings The Horrors of War created by the great Spanish artist Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828). The exhibition is set up by the Cervantes Institute jointly with San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts, and its curator is Juan Bordes. Up to now the exposition has visited various centers of Instituto Cervantes round the world, such as Tokyo, Beijing, New Delhi, Warsaw, Krakow and more. The last point of the journey is Sofia, in the halls of Sofia City Art Gallery.
The exhibition includes 82 prints. The aim is to contribute to the promotion and study of this important series of prints. For this purpose, the printed works of the cycle are complemented with photographs by contemporary photo-reporters who from 1839 until now take the same anti-war approaches that, with his genius and amazing expressive power, Goya himself was taking.
The series of engravings Horrors of War (1810-1820) is conceived as an act of pacifism, by means of which the artist is not taking anybody's side, but is exposing the barbarity of the two sides in a war conflict. They are generated by the Spanish War of Independence (1808 -1814) that broke out as a reaction against the invasions of the French Emperor Napoleon. Goya is trying to go beyond the historical facts. The idea occured to him in Zaragoza, where he went at the invitation of General Palafox to report about the heroic defense of the city besieged by French troops, but instead he finds ruins.
"The Horrors" can be divided into three parts. In the first part Goya illustrates stories about real events with unquestionable authenticity, but in his prints he goes beyond the specific facts, loading them with a critical charge of more general character. In the second part the artist depicts the experience of war in the streets of Madrid, displaying the horrible year of hunger 1811, and describing war through its impact on people's daily lives. Finally, he makes a few prints in a symbolic code, that he names "categorical caprices." In them Goya focuses on the political situation in the postwar period, criticizing the establishment of absolutism and breaking off with the ideals of the Constitution.
In 1862 San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts gains the eighty plates of the cycle The Horrors of War. In the following year1863 this important series of etchings is printed for the first time. Until then The Horrors of War have been recognized only through the three available copies from the series, and through the small number of test prints, made by the great artist during his lifetime. Since then, six copies of the cycle have been printed, and the cycle itself is supplemented in 1870 with two new plates by the Frenchman Paul Lefort. Through these engravings the views of Goya on the horrors of war become known to the world.
The created therein images of his personal experiences herald to a great extent the photographic language, because they are perceived as photo shots. They miss the preconceived composition that can make them resemble arranged scenes, or can soften their heartbreaking message. Furthermore, the engravings contain areas without information - an effect that a photographer will achieve through a smear or a flash. Finally, just like in photography, Goya boosts the documentary character of the scenes through titles like "I saw it", "That too," or "It happened that way."
The eighty-two prints making up the cycle The Horrors of War are shown grouped into seven sections - The front, The Victims, The Executions, The Mass migrations and looting, The Hunger, The Woman, The Post-War Period, and do not follow the numbering of the metal plates. The aim is to outline the main themes and the ideas interwoven with them that Goya develops in the entire series.