"Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters" - Francisco Goya

This is the caption to Francisco Goya's print "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters", part of a series of 8 images published in 1799. The series marks a pivotal shift in Goya's practice, where the artist began painting bleaker and darker depictions of the social, political and intellectual climate of the time.

Goya was the painter of Spain's royalty, executing several portraits of the King and the Queen, portraying the opulent reality of the time. His paintings served as celebrations of a time of hope for progress and transformation, but under Napoleon's ruling, everything changed and Spain became the territory of nightmare, violence and pain. Goya's work entered this new era of despair and he became a chronicler of suffering. His paintings depict the pains of an era as well as Goya's own desperation. He became deaf from a mysterious illness and outlived both his wife and children. Death seemed to always be in close proximity.

Goya's work is only one way to discuss pain in relation to creative work. The exploration of suffering and pain through art has been done in multiple ways, mirroring internal turmoils as well as unifying human beings through the universal experience of pain. Is pain the feeling we know best?

Perhaps the only way to prevent our pain from being in vain is to transform it into art. At the same time the experience of pain can severely fragilize us, it can bring insight and vividness of who we really are. What is the connection between art and pain? How different artists approach pain through their work? Whether it be physical or psychological pain, how can art serve as a magnifying glass to our internal sufferings?

Stay tuned as we investigate the relationship between pain and creative practices.