Yesterday, I went to Toledo. This is a medieval city that was Spain’s capital long time ago. I went there to see an exhibition about El Greco, who is a greek pinter from the 16th century. He was born in Crete but he spent most of his life in Spain. He’s very well-known here.
His pictures have something special. He doesn’t paint reality as it is but as it should be, in a very profound, mystic way. Once you’ve seen one of his pieces, you’ll always recognize him. He’s a very personal style of drawing human figures and of using colours as well. Since I studied History of Art (four years ago) I’ve liked him very much because he’s so different. Some scholars say that he painted like that because he suffered from an eye illness. But now, after seen this exhibition I don’t think so. No matter how modern his pictures might look, I definitely have the intuition he wanted them to look that way.
It was said something similar in a documentary I watched at the exhibition. El Greco lived in Crete twenty-six years (all his chilhood and youth mostly). There he painted religious pictures (as he did in Spain after that, just to make a living) but in the Greek way. Greeks (as Orthodoxes) painted what is called “icons”. “Icon” comes from Old Greek “eikon”, that is, “image”. (I’m not pretending to be super-intelligent here, I actually studied Old Greek).People who painted icons didn’t want to focus on depicting them in their external appereance. They’d rather preferred to focus on its essence. So an icon is basically an image which can transmit its true essence to the observer. This makes the painter a person who should be able to see and capture the true essence of people and objects. It’s a very spiritual conception of art. But in the past people used pictures (which were really expensive and rare) to meditate and such.
I like this whole idea of the icons and the painters as true seekers. Art is not always a fashion or something that can be sold and bought. Art can also have a connection with the inner self… Why not? When looking at El Greco’s pieces, I feel myself as swiming in a dream-like world of Gods, Angels, Demonds and mythical creatures. I like him.