Conversations with Goya

My father appreciated art. He facilitated visits to the great galleries in France, Germany, Italy and England for us to learn as well. But the only museum I remember spending time with him was in Museum of Natural History in Munich.

His appreciation of art increased if it was by a Greek artist, and especially if it was from Greece.

Francisco Goya was a Spanish artist at the time of the Spanish Inquisition, in the 18th Century. He broke the rules and painted beautifully, crossing into the beauty of nudity, and the caricature of the inquisition, using Greek Gods as representatives of Satan. Pan, whose goat from resided in Arcadia features in one of the paintings, with angels. In another, Chronos devours one of his children. The latter two pictures are quite disturbing, as peaceful as is the Nude of Maja.

My father was given a book titled “The Paintings of the Uffizi and Pitti Galleries. It is the thickest book in my library, a treasure of art. Another record of his love of art.

But the real significance of Goya for my father was something else. Whenever he was faced with inaction in a meeting or group of people he would go quiet and then impress them.

“Gentleman, it’s simple. We have to follow the Goya Principle”.

Now not everybody might have heard of Goya.  More Greeks knew of El Greco, if not only because he adopted a title obviously satisfactory to Greeks, and also because he was born in Crete. El Greco was famous. He left Crete as Doménikos Theotokópoulos and started icon painting there before transferring to Italy then Spain. El Greco was a great influence on Goya and later Picasso.

So the Goya Principle would impress.

The bickering in the meetings would usually stop, as my father, usually as chairman, would get them to focus on the problem at hand, in order to find a solution.

“What is the Goya Principle?”

“Aha, but if you carry on bickering like this then it means you must know the principle. After all, it seems you know the solutions to the problems already?”

They were never impressed. My father could have easily chaired seven different groups of meetings in a year, some with monthly meetings and others annual or quarterly. But each group received this advice.

“Gentleman, the Goya Principle is simple and we should embrace it in order to move on, and find solutions to our problems. We then need to put them into action.”

“So what is the Goya Principle?”

“Simple: Get Off Your Arses!”


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