Boris Johnson desecrates the Prado with his ungainly presence

The photos, so commented on, and even so admired, of Boris Johnson in the Pradomeditatively observing the portrait of Philip II and Charles V by Titianphotos that are the apotheosis of kitsch or cultural kitsch, have reminded me of a scene from The inmortality of Kundera –in the middle of this month of July Marta Rebon is going to present in Mallorca, within the framework of the Atlántida Film Fest, the only documentary that has been made and will be made about the Czechoslovakian writer.

In 1981, newly elected (finally!) President of the Republic, surrounded by television cameras and soldiers in full dress uniform and at attention, Mitterrand, dressed in a long black coat and ostentatiously holding a red rose in his hand, he walks, serious and solemn, towards the Pantheon of the Illustrious Dead and solemnly deposits the red flower on the tomb of a hero… making sure that the photographers catch him in good profile.

The scene of the new president alone before History constitutes a sequence of great plastic appeal, of great theatrical and television force (which is what that old fox Mitterrand wanted), and is the typical one that –in a similar way to the calculated tear gastric appearances, back in the day, of Lady Di; or as now, during the NATO summit in Madrid, Boris Johnson’s “lonely” stroll through the Prado– delights the foolish vulgarwho admires the depth and spirituality of his master.

Boris Johnson and Pedro Sánchez, together with his wife Begoña Gómez, in El Prado / EFE

But instead Kundera, who has a very sharp critical sense, laugh at the solemnity and the pretensions of President Mitterrand with his flower in his hand, and that mocking and lucid page of The inmortality it becomes unforgettable.

And by the way: Vera, the wife of the Czechoslovakian novelist, tells in To the research of Milan Kunderaof Ariane Chemin, an especially funny anecdote, given the circumstances: “…during a dinner at the Elysee. Mitterrand was already very ill. There were a dozen of us at the table, and Milan was sitting to his right”. On the menu were oysters, a shellfish that Kundera hates. “Milan, you are going to eat them for me,” ordered Mitterrand. “The doctor has forbidden me, but at least I will be able to observe how you enjoy them, and thus I will have a little impression that I am enjoying them too”.

So the writer had to silently gobble down five or six of those oysters that disgusted him… And as The inmortality was published years after this evening, and after Mitterrand’s death, it would not be surprising if the scene in the Pantheon, in which the novelist undresses the grandeur of the socialist president and reduces it to a kitsch and unsentimental theatricalization of power, whether, consciously or unconsciously, what we could call a spiteful “revenge of the oysters”.

Populist and crook

I remember, as I have been saying, Mitterrand with his black coat and his red rose, solemn and ridiculous, when I see the photos and footage of Boris Johnson in the Prado museum: stands apart from others Masters of the Universeleaders of NATO, and wanders, carefully disheveled and ungainly, with his hands behind his back, through the first floor of the venerable art gallery, contemplating the masterpieces of Rubens and pausing, thoughtful and admiring, before the imposing equestrian portrait of the emperor in Mühlberg, work of Titian.

The truth is that The idea that this gang of presidents would outrage the Prado with their presence already pissed me offwhere I go sometimes. that, moreover, that populist and trickster leaderwhich proposes putting illegal immigrants who after a thousand vicissitudesThey managed to get to their damn islands in some planes and send them to Equatorial Africa (you have to be miserable, no, the following); that he secretly celebrates crappy parties based on cheese and wine violating the confinement that he has imposed on his town and on top of it he says that they were “work meetings”; that he cynically breaks the recently signed treaties with the EC… That such a being contemplates, meditatively, the obese three graces by Rubens and the representations of the power of Carlos by Titian, affecting artistic inclinations… come and go, the world is full of imposters and actors.

'The Dressed Maja' (1800-1807), by Goya / MUSEO NACIONAL DEL PRADO

‘The Dressed Maja’ (1800-1807), by Goya / MUSEO NACIONAL DEL PRADO

But on top of that, the Spanish press admires and deduce from these images a nice sign of sensitivity and a reason for empathy, isn’t it to go into paroxysms of blind rage? Isn’t it to go immediately to the Prado, armed with torches, and set fire to that portrait of Carlos V? Or better yet, the entire museum.

This would have been done, of course, by the Count of Benavente, who, forced by Charles V to house the Duke of Bourbon in his Toledo castle – a felonious French warrior who in the battle of Pavia “more than brave, fierce, / liked in to see prisoner / his natural lord”–, he submitted, as a good vassal, although full of disgust, to the will of Carlos. He received the duke, gave him the most exquisite hospitality.

¡But as soon as the duke left, he set fire to his own castle, considering him hopelessly infamous for the contemptible guest! So at least he tells it, in the melodious verses of his romance a loyal castellanthe Duke of Rivas.

“Even today some old walls / of smoke and black flames, / recall such a great action / in the famous Toledo”. The Prado desecrated by the presence of Boris Johnson, Don’t they make you want to emulate the Count of Benavente?

Boris Johnson desecrates the Prado with his ungainly presence