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Orfanos, S.D. (2013). The Return of Guernica. Psychoanal. Perspect., 10(2):398-399.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 10(2):398-399

The Return of Guernica

Spyros D. Orfanos, ABPP

You are not an isolated painting and do not have an isolated story. The blood of your people flowed at 4:30 on a sunny April afternoon in 1937. The skies turn black with aerial bombers. Your paint is dry before the smoke has cleared.

Your creator had the allure of Alexander the Great, paintbrush in hand instead of sword, dealing with it great blows to Franco, Mussolini, and Hitler's attacks on human dignity. He conceived and enacted you in Paris with astonishing speed on May Day; only six days after the Luftwaffe terrorized the town. Pablo with his urgency preferred artistic detachment when facing his era. You contain multitudes: a mother carrying her dead child, a light-bearer, anguished horses and bulls, and a Minotaur with Cretan savagery. Collapse. Agony. Panic. Death.

A small stamp is issued to commemorate your return to Madrid after the demise of Franco. It was the painter's wish that it would be after. It took 44 years to cease your orphanhood from Spain. But in Guernica, the people still wait for you.

I am under the spell of Pablo. “Worship the virtue of ancestors,” he whispers, “not ancestors themselves.”

“What triggered your neck problem?” asks the neurosurgeon. “The Fascists,” I answer. “But there are no Fascists in New York. This is not Casablanca,” he says. “You are misinformed,” I say.

FIGURE 1  Pablo Picasso: A stamp printed in Spain circa 1981 shows Pablo Picasso's “Guernica,” 1937, oil on canvas (color figure available online).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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