Kira and the Immigrant Thief Gallery
El Pelele by Francisco Goya, a boceto or a pattern for a tapestry, depicts four women tossing a dummy into the air in a traditional game of blanket toss. The dummy smiles. But is he really a dummy, and what is Goya saying about the aristocracy and the role of women at the time? When Kira sees him in the Prado Museum, she identifies with his sense of loneliness and confusion, but believes he sees a way out.
Las Meninas by Diego Velaquez, famed for its ground-breaking use of perspective, depicts Princess Margarita de Bourbon surrounded by her ladies in waiting. Kira recognizes in the princess, and in her friend Margarita, how ill-prepared the privileged are for life’s real problems. Kira’s belief is reinforced that she must face her problems with the help of friends not so privileged. Was calling privilege into question Velaquez’ intent, too?
The Weavers, also by Velaquez, is a many-layered portrayal of the Greek myth of Arachne who, for her hubris, was changed into a spider. Arachne is shown weaving in the foreground while her confrontation with the gods is shown in the rear before a tapestry. Will a similar fate befall Kira, whose hubris drag’s her into the thief’s world? There are two more allusions to spiders in the painting. Can you find them?
The Witch’s Sabbath or The He-Goat by Francisco Goya. In his mesmerizing Black Painting, Goya creates a witch’s coven initiating a young child into their ranks. Kira’s friends see the Goat as an evil ruler or industrialist, but Kirahas seen him in real life: the thief’s criminal handler in the black duster whom she must somehow defeat herself.
Guernica is Pablo Picasso’s passionate denunciation of war, presenting in stark cubistic black and white the agonies suffered in a small town in northern Spain bombed by the Nazis at the beginning of World War II. Kira, feeling assailed by the thief’s evil criminal boss identifies, yet at the same time is struck by the fate faced of others less fortunate than she, even the young thief himself. Yet there is hope for the thief and for humanity as Picasso shows us. How, amidst such agony, does Picasso also portray hope?
La Gallina Ciega or Blind Man’s Bluff, a boceto by Goya, portray’s Spanish aristocrats whiling away the afternoon in a meaningless game. Kira, struck again by their rich dress and vacuous look, thinks back on El Pelele, the fool. Is she being played for a fool? Will she accept that she has entered a world for which she is unprepared and seek help from her friends, or give up, defeated by an underworld she cannot hope to eliminate?
The Garden of Earthly Delights, a tryptic by Heronymous Bosch, depicts heaven, hell and everyday human life as purgatory. Will that be her fate, Kira wonders, feeling stuck in a kind of purgatory herself and wondering if that is the best she can reach. Heaven, as shown here, seems as out of reach to Kira as the young thief and justice for Kamar, no matter what she does. How does one face what seems impossible?
The Third of May, a date remembered in Spain for the ruthless suppression of a Spanish revolt by French soldiers under the direction of the puppet king, Fernando III, is depicted by Francisco Goya here in an execution of an innocent. Was this Spain’s darkest hour? Was it Goya’s? Did Goya, who witnessed the execution, want to escape to his hometown, to avoid facing that he had not stopped the king’s injustice? What of the injustice to Kamar?