Sunday, April 05, 2015

Ramón Casas y Carbó

Ramón Casas y Carbó 1866 - 1932
Garrote vil
The Public garrote
Oil on canvas
127 x 166 cm
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid

The work depicts the public execution of a prisoner, Aniceto Peinadore, aged 19 years held in Barcelona in 1893

He had been convicted of murder

The garrote or garrote vil was the principal device used for capital punishment in Spain

Ramón Casas y Carbó 1866 - 1932
Pati de l'antiga presó de Barcelona (Pati dels «Corders»)
Courtyard of the old Barcelona prison (Courtyard of the 'lambs')
Oil on canvas
60,5 x 73,5 cm
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona

The artist depicts the location of the public execution when all have departed

Corpus. Sortida de la processó de l'església de Santa Maria del Mar
Corpus Christi. Departure of the procession to the church of Santa Maria del Mar
c 1896 - 8
Oil on canvas
115,5 x 196 cm
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona

In 1896, an anarchist attacked the Corpus Christi procession, which had left the Church of Santa Maria del Mar of Barcelona, killing twelve people and created panic in the city

Anarchist bombings like this took place in Catalonia and had taken place in the Gran Teatre del Liceu four years earlier

They were turbulent times and Ramón Casas y Carbó was one of those who memorialised their times

After the recounting of the Passion and the Crucifixion, it is apposite to recall the recent words of the Pope

"In mythology as in primitive societies, the crowd discovers the evil powers of its sacrificial victims, who are accused of the misfortunes that befall the community. This dynamic is not lacking in modern societies either. 
Reality shows that the existence of the legal and political instruments necessary to address and resolve conflicts is not a sufficient guarantee to prevent some individuals from being blamed for everyone’s problems. 
Civic life, structured around an organized community, needs rules of coexistence, the wilful violation of which demands appropriate redress. 
However, we are living in times in which, as much as in some political sectors as by certain media, public and private violence and revenge are incited, not only against those responsible for committing crimes, but also against those suspected, whether proven or not, of breaking the law. 
In this context, a widespread conviction has taken root in recent decades that public punishment can resolve the most disparate social problems, as if completely different diseases could be treated with the same medicine. 
This is not so much about trust in some social function traditionally attributed to public punishment, as about the belief that it is possible that such punishment can obtain those benefits that would demand the application of a different type of social and economic policy as well as social inclusion. 
Scapegoats are not only sought to pay, with their freedom and with their life, for all social ills such as was typical in primitive societies, but over and beyond this, there is at times a tendency to deliberately fabricate enemies: stereotyped figures who represent all the characteristics that society perceives or interprets as threatening. 
The mechanisms that form these images are the same that allowed the spread of racist ideas in their time."