Picasso, the giant, is followed by little giants - Spyros Mercouris 2006
Child in front of the mural The War is Over
Pablo Picasso is a giant. A giant of arts, of painting and sculpture! A man of genius – with brush and palette Picasso could express ideas that were artistically and politically profound.
On canvas, he could show love and life but also fear and death.
In 1937, the German Nazis, wishing to test the efficiency of their new weapons, bombarded Guernica, a small town in Spain. The town was totally destroyed, men, women, children were killed without pity. Simply as an experiment in the efficiency of the new art of war.
Picasso's painting of this atrocity, his „Guernica“ has become a worldwide symbol of the horror of war.
In 1995, in Japan the Art Japan Network began a movement named „The Kids' Guernica International Children's Peace Mural Project“. Youngsters and teenagers painted together on large canvas their feelings on war. Their Guernica's painted spontaneously, not muddled by outside influences.
Children's and young peoples' imagination is fresh. They dream and have visions; they feel and live intensively pain and joy. They observe, their mind accepts and absorbs numerous images and with a huge instinct, they feel and shape their lives. Their hands run free to paint the truth. The result is a fantastic painting full of colour and expression. These children are the giants, the heirs of Picasso.
In 1975, in the little town of Krista, at Agios Nikolaos in Crete, Melina Mercouri and Jules Dassin came to shoot „Christ Recrussified“, a film adaptation of the book of Nikos Kazantzakis (in English the film is known as „He, who must die!“). All the inhabitants of the little Kritsa took part in the film as extras an participated in its making. They felt that the message of the film was important. I had the honor and pleasure to be also there.
Manolis, the hero of the book and film, must die. Like Christ he must sacrifice himself. Manolis wants the truth. He does not accept injustice, he loves his fellow men.
At Kastelli, another little town, again in Crete, the kids of Guernica International Children's Peace Mural Project' come to paint, to paint for peace.
These children and the children of the world don't want to die. They want to live and must live.
Today all the developed countries form a global village. There has never been a time in human history when contact has been more easy. Every land and every continent is an instant and constant communication with every other.
It is, however, debatablwe whether this unprecented level of contact has in any meaningful sense fostered a true spirit of dialogue between people and culture.
Our times are dominated by the pursuit of money and by cynicism, mistrust, nationalism, racism, fear, insecurity, terrorism and war. Therefore we must react and believe in the power of culture.
We all must understand that when the growth of material goods is not balanced by a parallel development of ideas and values, then, the way of life produced is condemned to wither and degenerate.
It is not by chance that we are here in Katelli. The Mayor of Kasteli, Emmanouil Smymakis, the director of the Development Agency of Kasteli, Nikos Spetsidi, the Prefect of Heraklion, Dimitris Sarris, who is a great friend of mine, have understood the importance of this event. This is why they organize and embrace it. We thank them.
I want to give a special thanks to Takuya Kaneda, the coordinator of the movement „The Kids' Guernica International Children's Peace Mural Project“, for his enthusiasm and tireless work in insisting on the promotion of this idea.
I want to assure him that this time the Mass Media will transmit the children's Guernica event to the world. And will transmit it correctly. And thus we will send the message of peace, for this little town, Kasteli.
The message is simple. We don't want war. We want peace and the children show us the way.
Spyros Mercouris in front of the mural The War is Over Kastelli 2006