“Politics can be a song, a book or a painting.” The inverted commas belongs to Andrea Levy, in a suggestive interview that she had a few years ago with ethics. That culture is political can be recognized for 25 centuries, when art served as propaganda for Hellenization during the Mediterranean conquest. The spread of the beauty of Greek art determined the process of Greek cultural domination. What does not seem so clear, despite the testimony of the person in charge of the Culture Department of the Madrid City Council, is that politics is a cultural act.
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Among the headlines of that talk with Andrea Levy today a phrase stands out that could have self-destructed this Sunday on Andrea Levy’s own personal Twitter account. To clarify the limits of politics as culture, Levy indicated: “But it is important that we do not make aesthetic politics, only understandable by politicians, with esoteric language and on issues that only interest us ourselves.” Taking for granted that social networks serve as a political platform for the messages of public managers, Levy released last Sunday four images of four paintings that could fit perfectly into that category of aesthetic politics understandable “only for politicians” .
The Sundays of the person in charge of the culture area of Madrid are a kind of Leisure Guide, in which the PP policy is usually dedicated to recommending books or movies. But this Sunday was not one more: the PP was in a brawl because the Community of Madrid had awarded by finger, at the worst moment of the pandemic, a purchase of 1.5 million euros in masks to a friend of the Díaz brothers Ayuso. Which side is Levy on? civil war of the popular? Last Thursday (one day after the storm broke out in Genoa) he closed ranks, again on his Twitter: “I feel great pride in being part of Pablo Casado’s team who has worked tirelessly for the PP and who will be the best president for Spain”.
This is how we come to this Sunday: a fight with clubs in the PP, Genoa taken over by thousands of supporters of Isabel Díaz Ayuso shouting “Married, resign!” and Andrea Levy, on Twitter. Levy is also the president of the Committee of Rights and Guarantees of the PP and as such she is in charge of dispatching the open file to the president of the Community of Madrid. While the crowd of insurgents could be seen from the windows of the PP president’s office, she published an image of the painting Esquilache Mutiny, attributed to Goya and dated 1767, one year after the events that inspired the painting. The painting has not been exhibited since 1925, as indicated by the Goya Foundation in Aragon. The subject of the canvas is known from a banner held by one of the figures: “Death Esquilache!”.
The revolt of Madrid happens after the publication of the municipal norm that tried to regulate the way of dressing of the citizens, in addition to the abolition of the Jesuit order. In Goya’s painting, the street is taken over by the people, the protagonist of the revolt. And in the center, a stage where a religious appears. To the right, a kneeling man cuts a cloak. In the background, the silhouette of Madrid’s buildings. Goya was interested in matters of the moment, in making painting something immediate and bearing witness to the present. His reaction against academicism had started very early. The discontent of the people achieves the banishment of the politician from the minister and the survival of the king.
The town wants Esquilache out, but what does Andrea Levy want? A couple of tweets later, he uses a comment from a user and retweets it: “I would never demonstrate against the headquarters of my party or against the headquarters of my company. For me, Ayuso and Casado do not win. For me, the PP has lost.” . If we understand that Levy is against the popular demonstration as this user declares and the revolt in Genoa is against Casado, we should understand that she has used the image of the riot to go against the revolt against Casado. And this would lead to a much more delicate iconographic reading for Levy herself: is she asking for Teodoro García Egea, the new Esquilache, to fall to save Casado?
In Levy’s head
It is not easy to enter the head of someone like the person in charge of culture in the Madrid town hall and figure out what message she wanted to send to her voters with these publications, in which she has avoided adding any comments. It is important to remember in this iconographic hodgepodge by Andrea Levy that she herself has recognized on Facebook that one of her favorite paintings is Doña Juana the crazy, painted in 1877 by Francisco Pradilla. The monumental canvas that hangs in the Prado Museum is a vindication of the glass ceiling against women, incapable of governing because they consider that they prioritize matters of the heart over those of reason… That is the myth of Juana de Castile, imprisoned for half a century and all her life in Tordesillas —accused of madness of love for Felipe I— by her father, Fernando II, and his son, Carlos I, and separated from political power.
In this art of aesthetic politics understandable “only for politicians” he continued to send encrypted messages and at the limit of coherence with the stories he intended to use. He came The burial of Count Orgaz (1587), by El Greco, one of the most recognized works of the Cretan painter. The painting presents the miracle according to which Saint Stephen and Saint Augustine descend to Earth to personally bury Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo, lord of the town of Orgaz, for his exemplary life. In that sense and, despite the previous scene in which the president of the PP is saved, does Andrea Levy take for granted the death of the pious and benefactor of the parish, Pablo Casado?
In the last artistic conundrum, Andrea Levy uploads a painting alluding to Mariana Pineda (1804-1831), a liberal reference and executed by the vile garrote by Fernando VII. A fragment of the cover of the book by José Luis Olaizola dedicated to this character. The Granada heroine was sentenced to death for a crime of rebellion against order and the monarchy. They had found in her house a purple flag with a green triangle in the center and embroidered letters in red with the words: “Liberty, equality and law.” A Masonic motto that was enough to arrest her and execute her for refusing to rat out her fellow Liberals. “An indiscreet word will never escape my lips to compromise anyone,” said Mariana Pineda, who preferred the “glorious death” to cover herself with opprobrium by denunciation.
Is Levy comparing Isabel Díaz Ayuso with Mariana Pineda? If that were the case, I would be sending a clear message to the president of the Community of Madrid, who harasses Pablo Casado’s leadership without hot cloths: “The situation is very serious and worse every day. We are bleeding to death, we are sinking in the polls. The situation PP is unsustainable”, maintains Díaz Ayuso. A good liberal heroine doesn’t rat out her peers… not even to get out of wrongful death.
An hour after the publication of the three previous images, Levy shares The Prairie of San Isidro (1788), the extraordinary sketch for tapestry made by Goya and in which the people of Madrid enjoy their city in peace, without disturbance or disturbance…