Cartel del Centenario de Lorca

ABC Culture
4 Junio 1998

ZMercedes Carbonell’s self-portrait was the subject of the poster chosen by the Andalusian government’s Board for the Lorca Centenary.
In her conception of the Granada writer, the painter presents herself between ecstasy and pain as she evokes the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian.

Lorca is a woman in the poster for the Centenary of his birth. The Spanish artist, Mercedes Carbonell, winner of the penultimate edition of the Focus Award, has been chosen to create the institutional image, and as she always reflects herself in her works, she decided to be Lorca, using the symbol of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian to play with the ambiguity of ecstasy and pain, as well as to evoke the women in Lorca’s fiction.
Mercedes happens to be the sister of the well known Pablo Carbonell (star of the tv programme “Caiga quien caiga”). She is also the cousin of the actress Aitana Sánchez-Gijon, who plays the title role of Yerma in Lorca’s play. Last year Mercedes received an award from the Ministry of Culture: “Only a million pesetas for a single scholarship!” she exclaimed. “It is regrettable in a land like Andalusia where there’s so much latent art.” Now, with her image chosen by the Board to represent the Centennial of Lorca she has won the restricted competition created by its public company of cultural management. And next year she will have a solo exhibition at the headquarters of the Andalusian Contemporary Art Centre.
For her Lorca-Mercedes representation she has created an oil on canvas that has become a poster with advertising designer María José Torres―Ternero’s help.
The title says it all: “Mercedes Carbonell is not Lorca but Lorca is Carbonell”.
She says, without inhibition, “It is a work in which I represent myself with the ecstasy and the pain reflected in the images of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian; this seems to symbolise homosexuals because I don’t know whether there is suffering or enjoyment. Instead of an arrow, I have a dip pen because the great women in Lorca’s work seem to be writing letters to themselves, as a way of fighting against a fatal and inexorable fate. Just as the female characters that he describes (Yerma, Bernarda Alba, Mariana Pineda…) are victims of the times in which they had to live, I decided to use a figure of a woman as the image for the Centennial.” She also adds, “And just as San Sebastian was a martyr of his time, so was Lorca.”

In Mercedes’ view, “The image may seem very radical, but it is also very human, very warm. Lorca had these two facets: the popular taste and the desire to experiment with new things.”
There is an obvious question: what has led her to consider herself as the image of Lorca? “We have been seeing Lorca’s face everywhere all year and we don’t want to annoy people on his 100th birthday. I am Andalusian with black hair,” the painter adds, “And thank goodness. If I were blonde, I would have to have dyed it to win this prize. What a complication. Dyes are so bad!”

Juan Luís Pavón
Thursday 4-6-98