THERE ARE ALWAYS HOPES DESPITE ADVERSITY
At the age of 22, being a student of Chemical Engineering at the Iberoamerican University and a great admirer of Alchemists and Innovation, I had the opportunity to meet Pieter Brughel "The Elder", an innovative character, considered one of the first Surrealist painters, with the exception that Brueghel lived 350 years before this artistic movement appeared.
Let us remember that surrealism is an artistic and literary movement that emerged in France after the First World War and that is inspired by psychoanalytic theories to try to reflect the functioning of the subconscious, leaving aside any type of rational control. Pieter Brueghel called "The Elder" (to distinguish him from his son of the same name and known as "The Younger") is without a doubt one of the four great figures of Flemish painting along with Jan Van Eyck, Bosco and Rubens.
Let us not forget that Flemish painting or, Flemish school of painting, are the names that the historiography of art gives to the group of Flemish painters, that is, the masters who formed and maintained their workshops in Flemish cities in the 15th, 16th centuries and XVII, which covers the artistic styles of the Final Gothic, the Renaissance, Mannerism and the Baroque. To this we must add that Brueghel is also one of the great masters of the 16th century, and the most important Dutch painter of that century.
Much of the work of this painter is nuanced with symbols and secret messages, in fact, it is believed that he belonged to secret associations and that he practiced alchemy, which was very dangerous in the middle of the 16th century due to the position of the Holy Inquisition. One of the paintings that caught my attention the most in 1979 was "The Triumph of Death", oil on panel painted between 1562 - 1563. It is a moral work that shows the triumph of Death over worldly things, symbolized through a great army of skeletons devastating the Earth, not respecting age, social situation, beliefs or political power.
In the background a barren landscape appears where scenes of destruction still unfold. In the foreground, Death in front of his armies on a reddish horse, destroys the world of the living, who are led to a huge coffin, with no hope of salvation. However, there is hope despite the adversity presented in the table. All social strata are included in the composition, without power or devotion being able to save them. Some try to fight their dire destiny, others abandon themselves to their fate.
And the most relevant thing I discovered was, in the lower right corner, a couple of lovers, who remain oblivious to what is happening and even, instead of bothering them, death starts singing a sweet love song.
In this extraordinary scene within the environment of destruction and threat, Brueghel makes us aware that despite adversity, LOVE ALWAYS WINS, but also this painting, through its hidden symbolism, shows us four words of hope… VITA, that is to say LIFE ... in other words "THE TRIUMPH OF LIFE"