I had the opportunity to work in Madrid for a number of short periods between late 2011 and early 2013 and spent a total of sixth months there. Among the many amazing museums of Madrid is a small museum dedicated to Joaquín Sorrola which is situated in his former studio. Outside of Spain, Sorrola is known mostly for his late impressionistic style, but little is heard about his earlier work. In his exhibition a large format painting from his formative years struck me, titled Trata de Blancas – Human Trafficking. Painted in a mature and naturalistic manner are women of several generations sleeping in a room, the eldest is awake, watching over the young with worries. The room with wooden benches is most likely a train compartment or a station. There is a sense the family is competing with their fate as darkness is closing in.
I tried to recreate the scene of the painting, placing the group in a makeshift shelter or basement. By this time the civil war in Syria was raging full-on and news about the atrocities made headlines in the news. I tried to imagine a family hiding out, trying to stay strong during deprivated times.