José Luis Cuevas (1934 - )

Quevedo #3 (1969)
Quevedo #3

Screen print on silver paper
height: 56.5cm
width: 76.4cm

Donated by Siron Franco 1995


José Luis Cuevas' Quevedos, a series of expressive prints relating to works of literature and visual art, began in 1969 and followed the artist's meeting the writer Carlos Fuentes. In this particular element of the series, the friendship between Cuevas and Fuentes is reflected through an earlier relationship between artist and writer. Cuevas takes the role of Jacques Callot, the early 17th century French satirical draughtsman, and Fuentes, by implication, the role of Francisco de Quevedo, the early 17th century Spanish satirical writer. Here many of Cuevas' figures come directly from Callot, and the work also contains the transcription, in Cuevas' hand, of a satirical verse by Quevedo.

As published within 'Poesías sueltas, Burlescas, Sonetos' (c1610) by Quevedo and Villegas Vieja Verde Compuesta y Afeitada, this verse reads:
'Vida fiambre, cuerpo de anascote/ ¿cuando dirás al apetito: 'Tate'/ si cuando el Parce mihi te da mate/ empiezas a mirar por el virote?
Tú juntas en tu frente y tu cogote/ moño, y mortaja sobre el seso orate;/ pues siedo ya viviente disparate/ untas la calavera en almodrote.
Vieja roñosa, pues te llevan, vete;/ no vistas el gusano de confite/ pues eres ya varilla de cohete.
Y pues hueles a cisco y aclrebite/ y la pobre te sirve de pebete/ juega con tu pellejo al escondite.'

Translating into English as:
'Corpselike life, body like cloth/ how will you tell your appetites: 'stop'/ if whenever cornered by restraint/ you turn to look the other way?
You gather in front and chin/ topknot and shroud, over lunatic brain;/ well you have become living nonsense/ polishing your skull with almodrate
Itchy old woman, if you have been taken, then go!/ stop feasting on worms as if they were sweets/ You are no good but to be a firecracker
And so you will smell of ash and sulphur/ serving as a stick of incense for the people/ as they play hide and seek with your skin.'

Quevedo's 'leche'(milk) style (a word used in Spain to refer to mocking humour) ridiculed the culteranismo of 16th century Spanish. Cuevas appropriates his words in order to make a similar point about the equally 'cultured' artistic establishment of seventies Mexico. Made in reflective acetate, each Quevedo is a literal as well as metaphorical mirror; Carlos Fuentes thus refers to this series as 'engravings in milk and silver.'

Carlos Molina, 2008

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