“The Witching Hour” is our long wanted homage to Francisco Goya y Lucientes.
It is easy to spot the Goya’s influence on our works, with special emphasis on his pinturas negras (dark paintings) and etchings series(Disparates, Caprichos and Disasters of War). His grotesque scenes and figures established a decisive moment in our artistic development, so we owe him more than you can imagine.
The folklore that overflows his darkest paintings has a very straight connection to our very personal mythology, typical from the Iberian countryside. His tales of witches and monsters seem to come from my grandmother’s mouth, the same ones that make me shiver, as a child (and now too).
The first time we went to Prado Museum, in Madrid, no painting called us as much as the “Vuelo de Brujas”, a very small painting with strong brushstrokes. Despite his small size, the painting has visual intensity difficult to match. We felt like we were being swallowed by the nightmarish scene, in a way that we still feel the goosebumps when we see it, even on the internet.
The last time we went to my village in the mountains, we found ourselves having pleasant conversations with my elder neighbours. We were looking for inspiration and I know no better place to find it than there, hearing the old stories that were condemned to oblivion.
Witches and obscure rituals are probably the main subjects, because they involve many people I knew in my childhood. So, those highly disturbing stories were gradually taking our imagination and we decided to create a serie of designs based on that.
One of the ideas fitted perfectly on Goya’s “Vuelo de Brujas” visual description and we felt tremendously happy with that discovery. The stage was finally ready for our personal homage.
The original image belongs to a group of six small paintings inspired by the supernatural and witchcraft, commissioned by the Duke and Duchess of Osuna. It is known that this kind of mysterious works were popular among the Spanish high class, promoting, not only the artists, but the local lore.
“Vuelo de Brujas” shows us two layers of events – The one on the top, with the flying witches and the one on the bottom with a man, hiding from these creatures. Here, there are witnesses, suggesting that the picture itself may be based on the report of someone.
On our depiction, the witness does not exist, so the ritual is performed in total secrecy. Exactly like the original painting, three women, identified as witches, are floating in midair and devouring/ sucking the blood of a reckless young man.
It is said that the painting cloaks a critique on superstition and ignorance. Their top, pointy hats (capirote) are generally associated to the catholic brotherhoods, specially worn by penitents as a symbolic redemption. The Spanish Inquisition is known to have forced the sinners to wear cone hat like that to humiliate them in public.
There are different ways to interpret the capiore hats in this context. Assuming it as a symbol of catholic penitence, the flying women appear as the destructive power of faith that consumes our spirits. “Through penitence, we must learn humility”as said in holy scriptures, promoting the detachment of the body, promoting, most of all, ignorance.
From a different, moral perspective, we can identify those girls with hats as the guilt that devour us. These three bloodsucking vampires can be seen as just the society and their impositions that take advantage of us.
The expression “Witching Hour” is commonly described in folklore, as the time of the night where the supernatural beings or events appear to have its most powerful manifestation.
Many people defend that between 12 to 1 a.m. is the most propitious time to supernatural activity; others claim that between 2 and 4 a.m. the paranormal frenzy gets stronger.
Anyway, the nocturnal bloodsuckers are probably not the ones you should worry about.