Artist: Vidal Miñana
Print: Offset lithography (signed by artist in print)
Dimensions: 19,7 x 12 in (50 x 30,5 cm)
Condition: Good condition - minor signs of handling - see pictures.
Dissemination: Quite rare
This colorful poster is an advertising for the annual Fallas Festival which is a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph in the city of Valencia, in Spain. The image displays the faces of the devil himself which is a Catalan tradition where a group of individuals will dress as devils and light fireworks. While dancing to the drums of a traditional gralla, they will set off their fireworks among crowds of spectators. This tradition is now connected the the Fallas festival. In the bottom part of the image the skyline of Valencia is preset with black silhouettes of the most famous churches and towers and of course a bullfighting arena.
The Fallas festival takes place in the four days leading up to 19 March where the citizens of Valencia with great fireworks, celebration and burning of the huge monuments created previous to the celebration.
There is a lot of myths connected to the creation of the festival. Some believe the festival is dating back to medieval times when artisans disposed of the broken artifacts and pieces of wood they saved during the winter by burning them to celebrate the spring equinox (when day and night are equal in length). The carpenters used planks of wood to hang their candles on during the winter, as these were needed to provide light for the carpenters to work by. With the coming of the spring, they were no longer necessary, so they were burned. Other theories suggest that the tradition is tied to Roman times when bonfires were used to greet the spring welcome.
The celebration survived up to the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) when the monuments became more anti-clerical in nature and were often highly critical of the local or national governments, which in fact tried to ban the Falles many times, without success. After the Civil War during the dictatorship of Franco the celebration lost much of its satirical nature because of government censorship, but the monuments were among the few fervent public expressions allowed then, and they could be made freely in Valencia. During this period, many religious customs such as the offering of flowers to Our Lady of the Forsaken were taken up, which today are essential parts of the festival, even though unrelated to the original purpose of the celebration, and somewhat antithetical in spirit.
With the restoration of democracy and the end of government censorship, the critical falles reappeared, and obscene satirical ones with them. Despite thirty years of freedom of expression, the world view of the fallero can still be socially conservative, is often sexist and may involve some of the amoralism of Valencian politics. This has sometimes led to criticism by certain cultural critics, environmentalists, and progressives. Yet there are celebrants of all ideologies and factions, and they have different interpretations of the spirit of the celebration.
Today the festival is again very tied to the freedom of speech and the satirical criticism of authorities as the current conservative government of Spain is trying to limit the increasing number of demonstrations with fines and harsh penalties for the protesters due to the economical situation of the country.
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