The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, considered by specialists to be the best self-portrait museum in the world, opened twelve new rooms on the first floor of the building last July. Part of this newly generated space has been allocated to the world of comics and, to maintain the character of the center, it intends to exhibit self-portraits there. The initiative was launched in 2021, before having the space to exhibit the works, under the name ‘Comics in Museums’ and with the support of the Italian Ministry of Culture. Since then, and with the help of the Lucca Comics & Games festival, every year he requests self-portraits from two great figures of international comics. Until now it had been contributed by Milo Manara, Lorenzo Mattotti, Altan and Will Eisner. This year the selected artists were Frank Miller, the creator of ‘Sin City’, and the Aragonese Luis Royo, to whom the Lucca Comics & Games festival has dedicated an exhibition at the Palazzo Ducale along with his son Rómulo Royo. In it they have ‘revisited’ Goya’s work.
“I’m not much of a self-portrait,” says illustrator Luis Royo (Olalla, Teruel, 1954). spectator, but I am with my eyes down, working. And then I have painted some little dragons around, swarming. As for the technique, I have done it like any other work, starting with watercolor, then moving on to acrylic with airbrush and finishing with oil.”
It is not a ‘benevolent’ self-portrait. Luis Royo will turn 70 next year. “I have painted myself with all my wrinkles,” he laughs. When you get the first wrinkles you don’t get along with them, but then you start to grow fond of them.. “They end up giving you a feeling of calm.”
Luis Royo has become the first fantasy illustrator whose work enters the Uffizi Gallery. He is not the first Spaniard (Velázquez, Murillo…) nor the first Aragonese, since the museum has in its collections masterpieces such as a ‘Portrait of the Countess of Chinchón’ by Goya.
Precisely the painter from Fuendetodos has inspired Luis Royo in his latest work. Together with Rómulo Royo, his son, who has developed a parallel (and in recent years converging) career as an illustrator and painter, has been the star of the Lucca Comics & Games Festival, the most important in Europe in the field of comics and video games of the fantasy genre.
The festival, which is held in the Italian city of Lucca, has just closed its 57th edition and this year He had chosen Luis and Rómulo Royo as his star figures. Luis is an old acquaintance of the festival, since in 2016 he already printed his hands on the Lucca Walk of Fame. The couple of artists brought their work to the event, separately and in collaboration, and finally, the first samples of a long-range project they are working on: a personalized vision populated by fantastic beings of Goya’s work. . His exhibition could be visited at the Palazzo Ducale in Lucca from October 14 to November 5. In the paintings they have presented, some of which are large format, they have ‘revisited’ paintings such as ‘The Sabbath’ or the portrait of María Teresa de Borbón. In addition, Aragonese artists had their own stands at the festival, with original work and limited and signed editions.
“The balance we make of our participation in the festival is very good,” adds Luis Royo. “The exhibition has been widely visited, according to the organization, one of the three that has received the most audiences since the festival began. And in the stands that we had, one of original work and another of graphic work, we have signed and sold a lot. It has been exhausting but we are happy.
Now, Luis and Rómulo Royo have returned to the drawing board and the blank canvas.
“The project of reviewing Goya’s work with our eyes is just beginning -assures the illustrator-. We want to continue along this line at least for the remainder of this year and throughout 2024, giving our vision of some of Goya’s works, both separately and in collaboration. Rómulo will put aside his personal artistic projects for a while to also focus on this. They have already offered us the possibility of holding exhibitions, publishing a book, even a deck of cards, but we don’t want to commit to anything. We will look at Goya’s work with our own eyes and, when we are done, we will see the possibilities. To a certain extent, we feel obliged, as Aragonese, and after so many years working in the world of fantasy, to offer our vision of Goya.”