MADRID – Renowned Spanish painter Miquel Barcelo presented on Thursday his watercolor interpretation of “Faust,” the immortal German literature classic by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 15 years after publishing his personal take on Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy.”
This latest work by Spain’s most coveted contemporary painter is a bilingual German-Spanish print edition of Goethe’s tragic play – “Faust, Part One” – boasting 72 original illustrations that the artist painted during his 2017 summer holidays in northern India.
“The book is a reflection on life, very contemporary. It dwells on knowledge, oblivion, desire, the loss of desire, power and the loss of power, the idea of a god or the absence of him. Regardless, we all have a Faust and a Mephistopheles inside of us,” Barcelo said during the book’s presentation.
The play’s plot refers to the myth of a wise man who, frustrated by the limitations of human knowledge, and seemingly incapable of experiencing happiness, is confronted by the diabolical Mephistopheles, who tempts him with every earthly pleasure as long as he sells his soul to the devil.
“I encounter a sense of urgency in this book-creation process. I have done lots of exhibitions, perhaps too many, but not enough books,” Barcelo explained.
“We haven’t done this with the Christmas season in mind; we want this to endure, this is not about sales,” he added.
In the words of his publisher, Joan Tarrida, it is a “parallel interpretation” of Goethe’s first volume of “Faust,” which the German literary giant wrote in 1806 and published in 1808, aged 57.
Tarrida underscored that Barcelo’s interpretative take was unlike that of others who merely illustrated the text, such as Gustave Dore.
“I am a painter, not an illustrator,” Barcelo stressed.
The artist said he was already working on the play’s second volume, where Faust arrives in a land of fairies and, after many adventures, finally manages to ascend into Heaven.
Barcelo said he was planning on returning to northern India to seek inspiration for the second part’s watercolors, which are scheduled for publication in Oct. 2019.