Reflections in a Golden Eye (Carlos Aires)


Reflections in a Golden Eye, a work by Carlos Aires, is among the new pieces joining the Banco de España collection that bears a close relation to the central bank’s tasks (in this case, banking supervision). It also adds to the number of contemporary Spanish artists represented in the collection.

The composition, which includes a nod from the artist to the John Houston film of the same name, portrays a large eye observing the onlooker, with the onlooker in turn reflected in the eye itself. Standing before this work by Carlos Aires, the observer contemplates his own reflection in the golden steel while simultaneously being gazed upon by the tens of eyes that comprise the piece. The metal eyes returning the gaze are taken from effigies, most of them male, that appear on real bills circulating in some of the world’s richest countries. The polished composition is reminiscent of the baroque altarpieces commonly found in Christian churches, in a clear allusion to the quintessential contemporary god: money.

The symbol of the eye dates back to ancient Egypt, representing sight, light, wisdom and spirit, and was subsequently used in Catholicism to depict God’s vigilance and providence over humanity. It is an image that appears frequently on bills. For example, the Eye of Providence can be found on the reverse of the US dollar bill, represented inside a triangle atop a pyramid.  The image of the eye also refers to the mythological character Argos, the watchful guardian, who features on the uniforms of some of those depicted in the Banco de España portrait gallery, including Francisco de Cabarrús, a work by Agustín Esteve, and Ramón de Santillán, painted by Gutiérrez de la Vega.

  • Carlos Aires (Ronda, 1974)

    Reflections in a Golden Eye, 2018

    Impresión UVI sobre acero inoxidable con aleación oro, barniz, pintura (190 x 150 x 7 cm)

    Colección Banco de España



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