How do you paint an angel if you don’t believe angels exist?
This story of an angel begins in Valencia, in Spain, in a public garden called Los Viveros, on the banks of what used to be the river Turia. My friend Antonio Gomis and I like to draw there because it’s green and cool and quiet.
Among the current attractions in the park (originally designed by the Muslims during their nearly eight hundred years in Spain) are fountains, pavilions, sculptures, a Museum of Natural Science and this faux-Greek colonnade.
We chose this spot in the park to draw because it offered a place to sit, some shade from the relentless Mediterranean sun, and because the Doric columns and Ionic capitals of an ancient temple seemed out of place in the garden.
Even more out of place was the angel. According to tradition, they are beings that are supposed to descend from the celestial worlds into our own, to be intermediaries between us below and the gods above. This angel was different; it rose up out of the dirt, like a deformed tree, nothing heavenly except for the wings. Gradually, Los Viveos darkened and the angel began to form itself, but it seemed to be wounded, scarcely able to fly.
This is a time of afflictions. People we love and people we don’t even know are dying by the thousands. The city of Valencia, like the rest of Spain, and like much of the rest of the world, is enduring weeks of confinement in which people have locked themselves in their homes, as they wait for the shadows of death to pass. I would like to paint an angel, one from the world above, who visits us to help heal our wounds and comfort our damaged earth. If only such a being existed.