‘The era of disappeared images’ arrives at the Prado Museum
The Museo Nacional del Prado recently presented a project of Brais Rodriguez Y Caylus Antiquarian, which is, to date, his last inclusion in the field of the ninth art.
In 2019 the art center acquires a unique piece from Caylus Anticuario, an album of prints collected by Juan Clemente Brignardelli during the last quarter of the 18th century. Professor at the school of drawing in Cádiz, Brignardelli uses this collection of images as models for artistic learning. His students tirelessly copy these etchings; and their prolonged use has deteriorated them, since many have stains of humidity or paint, coming from their use in the workshop. Many of the great masterpieces of history
The most sublime paintings or architectures were never contemplated by Brignardelli, nor by his students, who, however, knew them thanks to the engravings and prints that represented them.
And it is precisely its function as a means of transmitting knowledge that fascinates the cartoonist Brais Rodríguez, who when invited by Jose Manuel Matilla To work on the Brignardelli album, he conceives an extraordinary project around the importance of the image as a way to maintain memory and memories.
Brais is a marvelous storyteller who builds his graphic stories using the most diverse techniques. This time, use collage and ink. Thus, he starts from a scan of the prints from Brignardelli’s own album and other vintage engravings, and imagines a story that, in a way, has been prophetic.
In ‘The era of missing images‘, the cartoonist tells how the world is plunged into a sudden pandemic of unknown origin that makes all the images in the paintings, engravings and drawings disappear. Page by page, panel by panel, Brais covers part of the images with black ink: a blackness that ends up invading everything.
Fascinated by the proposal, and as confessed lovers of all graphics on paper (be it drawing, print, comic or any other type of graphic book), Caylus Anticuario embarks on the adventure of co-publishing this unique work with Carne Líquida.
The end of the production of this comic in December 2019 coincides in time with the start of the global Covid 19 pandemic. Therefore, the result remains saved until today; and its belated presentation two years later symbolizes the light at the end of the dark tunnel that our society is going through.
The viewer, when faced with a great work, tends to associate it with reality, endowing it with a meaning that perhaps it did not originally have, but that from that moment remains inescapably associated with it.
Thus, fear and lack of knowledge about Covid 19 and its consequences, which have accompanied us during confinement and much of this pandemic, finds its perfect representation in the blackness that surrounds everything in ‘The era of disappeared images ‘.
But what I like most about this story is that the cartoonist makes a first-rate reflection on graphics, and imagining its loss, highlights how embedded it is in society at all kinds of levels; from its iconic value as a representation of power to its usefulness to keep the memory and memory of the loved one fresh.
One last finding that I would like to highlight from Brais Rodríguez’s proposal is that it contains a master lesson on drawing as a method of representation. And, analogously to the famous Rorschach test, the comic book reader sees images where there are only spots. And, guided by the cartoonist, he endows them with meaning.
Undoubtedly, we are facing avant-garde work of the highest artistic value that exemplifies once again the interesting results that arise from the idyll that, for more than a decade, the great museums have maintained with comics.