Portuguese Artist Recreates Picasso's 'Guernica' In Reaction To The Syrian War

Guernica, one of Pablo Picasso's most famous works, remains one of the most poignant and symbolic anti-war paintings in history. Leading figurehead of the Cubist movement, the artist created the oil painting to denounce the brutality of the Guernica bombing of April 26 1937, carried out by Nazi German and Fascist Italian aircrafts at the request of Spanish nationalists.

Toured around various venues across the world, the painting helped open the world's eyes to the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War. Today, Portuguese artist Vasco Gargalo has recreated the iconic image as a statement on the current situation in Syria. As he explained to BuzzFeed: "When I think of civil war, I always think of Guernica."

(© Vasco

(Photo: Vasco Gargalo)


For cartoonist Vasco Gargalo, art is "the most direct way to get a message across". With this in mind, he took the powerful symbols seen in the original painting and mixed them with the main figures of the Syrian Civil War, which has been tearing the country apart for over five years.

For his piece, entitled Alepponica, Gargalo has used an almost identical composition, recreating the image to represent the city of Aleppo. Currently split between the government-held west and the rebel-held east, the town of over two million inhabitants has been one of the worst-hit areas since the uprising of 2011.

Different war, same suffering

Vasco Gargalo grew up with a print of Guernica hanging on his wall. For years, he was able to observe the painting and reflect upon the horror of its subject.


In 2010, the artist finally saw the Picasso canvas in real life: "At that instant, I felt so many emotions: outrage at the bombing of this little Spanish town [represented by] modern, cubist silhouettes, animals in distress..."

After seeing history tragically repeat itself, he decided to create his own response. He concludes: "The Syrian people's suffering is in no way different."

You can check out a few annotated close-ups of the painting just below.

(© Vasco Gargalo )

The phantom-like figure from the original work is represented here by Syrian President Bachar el-Assad. Instead of holding a candle, he clutches a stick of dynamite. (Photo: Vasco Gargalo)

(© Vasco Gargalo )

The woman walking towards freedom represents the migrants fleeing to Europe to escape the atrocities of war. (Photo: Vasco Gargalo)

(© Vasco Gargalo )

The horse, thought to represent the Spanish people in the original painting, takes the form of Barack Obama here.  (Photo: Vasco Gargalo)

(© Vasco

The hand grasping a gun symbolises the resistance of the city of Aleppo. (Photo: Vasco Gargalo)

(© Vasco Gargalo )

Thought to represent fascism in Picasso's painting, the bull takes the form of Russian president Vladimir Putin here. Russian warcraft can be seen hovering above him. (Photo: Vasco Gargalo)

You can check out more of Vasco Gargalo's work right here.

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By Bérénice Rebufa, published on 06/10/2016


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