Review by Debkumar Mitra, Scroll.in, Published Oct 15, 2017
Santiago Garcia and Javier Olivares’s ‘The Ladies-In-Waiting’ tries to lift the veil of mystery over Velázquez’s famous work ‘Las Meninas’.
A fictional account of a mysterious and famous painting and a fragmented history of its birth add up to make for an unusual subject for a graphic novel. Santiago Garcia and Javier Olivares’s The Ladies-In-Waiting is an attempt to unveil the mystery shrouding Spanish painter Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez’s famous work Las Meninas, while meditating about the Spaniard’s life. A postmodern novel with a touch of pastiche, an absence of verifiable facts, and accounts of events by unreliable witnesses, this graphic narrative is a smörgåsbord of ideas with broad flatline German Expressionist style illustrations.
Many of the people fascinated by Las Meninas feature in the novel: French philosopher Michel Foucault, artists Francisco Goya, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí, playwright Antonio Buero Vallejo, and even the little-known American painter William Merrit. These characters appear suddenly, disrupting the narrative flow. Olivares’s use of different styles and colours are a bit shocking at times, as in the case of his depiction of Foucault, for instance. It appears to be a deliberate effort to capture an era through its dominant art style, albeit improvised.