Goya painted Florentino Pérez eating Iker Casillas. Let us explain.

Editor’s note: Spanish painter Francisco Goya (totally dead) has exhibited a new work (not really) depicting the tragic end to Iker Casillas and Florentino Pérez’s relationship (that actually happened). We had Elisa Rodríguez-Vila review said (made up) work.

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Unless you’ve been living under an ottoman, you know that Goya has a mischievous tendency to paint his royal subjects — unbeknownst to them, of course — in a less than flattering nature. This new effort is no different and is what scholars like to call “peak Goya.” It is a trick he plays on us all, alas, one in which he ridicules and tears down power from within.

Does this new work make Iker Casillas his most perfect ally? We’ll never know. Goya will never take sides. He only exposes them.

While his subject is a familiar one (the decadent, incestuous and comically out-of-touch management of Real Madrid), Goya takes a slight turn in terms of staging. He has dressed them up in a classic Greek myth, further dramatizing their already tense relationship.

It is widely known that in his old age Goya is fed up with the civil strife currently plaguing the Real Madrid court, hence the darker than usual tones and brisker brush strokes. While this work’s haunting emotion is what deserves our attention, a brief note on the composition is unavoidable. Goya has enlarged Florentino’s normally dwarf-like frame to fill the painting, perhaps in an effort to better capture his ego. Giving him the part of Saturn is such an obvious way to point out his paranoia, jealousy and cannibalism that we barely notice that he is in fact in costume. While the figure of Casillas feels like a minuscule toy in Florentino’s hands, freshly ripped apart, the sharpness of his jersey and prominence of his number in the center of the piece is clearly symbolic of the goalkeeper’s unbreakable and immortal legacy.

We are all familiar with the hellish tale of Saturn and his sons: fearing that his progeny would overthrow him, he would eat them. Florentino, of course, having quite literally devoured so many of his past protegé’s — Hierro, Del Bosque, Redondo and Raúl, to name a few of his victims — now has turned to his most threatening “son” of all, Iker. Having won five Spanish leagues, there Champions League, two European championships and a World Cup, Casillas was doomed to the bloodiest feast of all.

Yet to think this is a simple recounting of that story with new faces is a plebeian thought, at best. No, this is not a recounting, it is an omen – a final farewell to a bygone era that makes the viewer question: Who is eating who?

As my fellow scholar, Jay Scott Morgan, said, this is “a work of such indelible power, it seems to have existed before it was created, like some deep-rooted, banished memory, inescapable as nightmare.” And now this image will be sealed in the psyche of Madridistas everywhere as an impossible nightmare to overcome. Somewhere Goya is laughing. And crying.

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