Bernardi Roig

‘The Head of Goya’ at the Phillips Collection, Washington, USA.

Apr 6 - Jul 7, 2024

The Phillips Collection presents a special installation for the project 'The Head of Goya' by artist Bernardí Roig.

While confined to his home in Mallorca, Spain, during the global COVID-19 lockdown of 2020, Bernardí Roig (b. 1965) created 55 drawings, one a day, inspired by the lost, severed head of Francisco José de Goya (1746–1828). Goya was the most famous Spanish artist of his time, painting lavish portraits of the Spanish nobility and harrowing scenes of the country’s ongoing social and political turmoil. At age 82, Goya died alone in voluntary exile in Bordeaux, France, and was buried in Chartreuse cemetery. Sixty years later, the artist’s body was discovered headless when it was exhumed in preparation for a reinterment in Madrid.

Roig’s poignant drawings are meditations on the grotesque and unexplained dismemberment of Goya’s body. They were created at a moment when Roig struggled to process the uncertainty of living in a world where people were physically isolated—cut off from the social body—and dying. Like Roig, Phillips Collection founder Duncan Phillips greatly admired Goya’s art. In 1936, he acquired Goya’s Repentant St. Peter (c. 1820-24), a work he considered “a stepping stone” between the art of the past and the art of his time. Today, nearly two centuries after Goya’s death, Roig’s drawings invoke the spirit of a bygone era while inviting us to explore and find comfort in humanistic expressions we all share.

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This exhibition is made possible thanks to the generous support of Beatriz and Graham Bolton.