Nistal Mayorga painted the truth and met with chess

One of the charms of chess is the subtle and powerful silver thread with which it mirrors us in different disciplines. The game-science is present in the plans of Ridley Scott, in the notes of Philidor’s operas and in the lines of Stefan Zweig, as well as in so many other samples of the divine that inhabits the human being. It is tempting to let our souls be seduced by the king of games; we should ask ourselves if he accompanies us as an exquisite amusement or if we are condemned to recreate our existence on a checkerboard. I propose, then, that you look for yourselves in the chess player who pursues beauty, in the one who loves victory, in the one who wants to have fun, in the guardian of truth or in the companion who builds bridges of friendship.

The Llobregat Open Chess Tournament is a unique tournament, because in addition to hosting the most powerful minds of chess, it hosts different parallel activities. Among them, this past edition has highlighted an exhibition of 21 lithographs by the painter Nistal Mayorga. The multifaceted artist from Leon based in Bilbao has used the watercolor technique to portray the world champions, the sacred lineage of players who have planted the seeds of ideas forever fertile.

The exhibition, entitled “Glances of Champions” (analogous to the book he published in 2022), invites us to a silent dialogue with the Bobby Fischer, Anatoli Karpov and Garri Kasparov who have had days of glory only to see someone younger and stronger take over their kingdom. The history of the hardest of sports is forged in chiaroscuro, because it is known that in chess the error penalizes more than what bonuses the success. And, perhaps for that reason, we love him more and more every day.

The way in which the champions portrayed by Nistal look back at us leaves no one indifferent. Every human story has its mysteries, just as the times in which champions live have their codes. Steinitz had to live with mental illness, Lasker suffered extreme poverty, it is impossible to detach Alekhine from the Nazi yoke; Anand is a moral leader, Kramnik is the son of bohemian art, Carlsen is a successful businessman. The champions, looking at us from the lithographs, sink their fingers in our hair knowing that in their deeds are our anguish and our dreams.

This chess dialectic of Nistal Mayorga emerged in 2016, when through the mediation of GM Txelu Fernandez he made a collection of 30 oil paintings and a watercolor that are permanently exhibited at the Club Deportivo de Ajedrez Alferza Tenerife. CajaCanarias supported the project. After the passing of the paintings as a traveling exhibition in other cities, our editor, Xavier Pérez Llorca, managed that the fans who came to the Llobregat Open Chess Tournament could enjoy their exhibition in Sant Boi de Llobregat last November.

Nistal Mayorga’s talent with paintbrushes is not limited to our borders. The paintings are resonating in the global play-science environment, so in January they traveled with the painter to the United States. The emblematic Marshall Club of New York, coinciding with the New Year’s celebrations, has dressed its walls with the lithographs and, in addition, has presented the most recent portrait: that of the current world champion, Ding Liren. In the words of Beatriz Marinello, curator of the exhibition: “(…) Nistal’s art is characterized by its freshness and passion, emphasizing that the eyes are the mirror of the soul, and chess, for all lovers of this game, goes straight to the heart”.

And not only have the paintings arrived in the United States, but their journey is extensive and continues, since Cuba has also taken an interest in them. In early May they arrived on the island, where they were first received in Havana, on the occasion of the prestigious Capablanca Memorial. There, Nistal Mayorga was given the honor of carrying his portrait of Capablanca to the tomb of the famous Cuban player of Catalan origins, to whom a heartfelt tribute was paid, as is traditional on those dates. Then, in the middle of the month, the exhibition moved to Santa Clara. Shall we entrust them with an emotional circumstance? The painter donated three works to the Cuban people, which will be exhibited in the chess palaces of both cities.

However, the journey of “Miradas de campeones” does not end in Cuba. Last Thursday 23rd, the paintings landed in Colombia, so that the exhibition has been part of the events of the Continental Tournament of Medellin. Note for the most experienced readers: keep it a secret, but we have it on good authority that Nistal Mayorga and his portraits have been invited to the dinner to commemorate the centenary of the International Chess Federation (FIDE).

By Jorge I. Aguadero Casado, editor-in-chief of Peón de Rey.

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