On 28th October at 19.00, the National Museum of Fine Arts inaugurates the exhibition ‘El Greco and the Painting of the Impossible. 400 Years Later.’
In 1936 ‘Jesus in the Garden of Olives’ by Doménikos Theotokópoulos (also know as El Greco, The Greek) entered the National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA). It is one of the most important works in the collection and has been permanently displayed throughout each new museum hang. Today, four hundred years after the artist´s death and almost eighty years since our acquisition, the museum joins worldwide tributes to the painter with an exhibition focussed on three of his religious paintings.
El Greco believed art should go beyond realistic representation and instead created heightened, dramatic visions; recounting religious miracles by stimulating the senses. His oil paintings depict elongated, twisted figures and use vivid colour and light effects. These techniques are demonstrated in the works presented: ‘Jesus in the Garden of Olives’ (MNBA collection), ‘Jesus with the Cross’ (from the National Museum of Decorative Arts) and, specially borrowed from the Greco Museum of Toledo, ‘The Tears of St. Peter’.
These three El Greco works are displayed in dialogue with other devotional works by his contemporaries - Luis de Morales, Francisco Pacheco and Mateo Cerezo. Furthermore, the exhibition, curated by María Florencia Galesio, presents a set of Spanish oil paintings from the ‘Generation of 1898’. These artists, in the context of the Spanish-American war, re-evaluated and recognised the importance of El Greco’s expressive style. Finally, in acknowledgment of the continuing influence of El Greco throughout the twentieth century and today, a selection of works by contemporary Argentine artists Daniel García, Román Vitali and Luciana Rondolini reveal connections with the Spanish master.
The exhibition is designed by Valeria Keller and Mariana Rodriguez (MNBA) and uses light, colour and music to create an environment of contemplation. The display is concluded with a video projection, kindly provided by the El Greco Foundation (Toledo), titled ‘El Greco, Artist of the Invisible’.
As well as the exhibition itself, a beautiful accompanying catalogue is available. This includes research about the three paintings by Juan Antonio García Castro (Director of the Greco Museum of Toledo); Alberto Bellucci (Director of the MNAD); and Graciela Razé and Mariana Astesiano (Conservation and Restoration at MNAD). María Florencia Galesio considers the artist’s later works. Patricia V. Corsani, Paola Melgarejo and Pablo De Monte (MNBA) trace the taste for El Greco and the Spanish school in Argentina. Pablo De Monte and Silvana Varela examine El Greco’s influence in contemporary Argentine art. And finally, Mercedes de las Cerreras, (Collections dept. MNBA) uses texts from previous conservators and chronologies to piece together the history of conservation of ‘Jesus in the Garden of Olives’.
The exhibition is supported by the Friends Association of the MNBA.