The history written in blood some 70 years ago was destined to be repeatedwith the passage of time. In the Basque town of Guernica there were no garrisons or weapons stash; not even a communications center. There were only slingshots with which children hunted birds and spiders when they left school. But the plan for the Second World War was already hatched in the mind of a maniac who needed to test the new German Junker Luftwaffe planes.
Carpet bombing is the term in military jargon for what took place over the village of Guernica on April 26, 1937. Four days later, Pablo Picasso would start to work on his great painting, a black and white allegory about the horrors of war that is marking its 70th anniversary. He never signed nor dated the painting, to give it a universal and timeless character.
The large painting has few objects and figures that stand out. The painter did needed no more to represent the pain of the innocent, many who died without ever knowing what was falling upon them from the skies. It is asserted that Guernica was the first town to ever be attacked by a massive air raid in history, something that would later become common during WWII.
Eight figures: One woman carries a dead child in her arms, a bull, a fallen soldier, a dying horse with a spear piercing through it, a frightened woman peering out a window carrying a flame-lit lamp, one woman running away and another trying to escape her burning house. The murderers are nowhere to be seen; each one of these figures depict suffering, violence and chaos. There is cubism, but expressionism is also present in those heads of wide-open eyes and mouths, and in the purity and definition of lines that remind one of neoclassicism.
Picasso made several sketches of the work before paining it. By April 8 he was already working his oils on the canvass and by June 4 the painting was completed. Today, it is considered one of the jost identifiable paintings in the world, and one of the jost severe criticisms against the injustices and horrors of war.
In Guipuzcoa, in the Basque Country, some 30 painters hailing from different trends will get together to reinterpret different sections of the famous painting in a great mural to honor its 70th anniversary. This "second Guernica," depicting crimes against humanity will "flourish" with the drum beats of the wars of the past seven decades, and is one of several homages to the original masterpiece.
It is well known that Picasso adamantly refused to offer keys to interpreting the painting, although numerous studies have been published
about the meanings of its symbols. He always sustained that a horse was ahorse and a bull a bull. "The audience will be able to find its meaning without explanations," he often said.
Picasso never stopped repeating that Guernica was a timeless and spaceless warning to the world, valid whenever human life was made worthless under the uproar of war.
Guernica, more than ever!