Monday, July 4, 2011

Spain (part 2)

the splendid courtyard in the centre of the Reina Sofia

A peaceful place with a large Calder sculpture - bright red and yellow leaf shapes bouncing in the breeze, set off by the abundance of brilliant green trees that formed the circular space of the courtyard. Two elaborate fountains bubbled away in the background and I sat in the sunshine for a minute thinking "how unbelievable it is that I am here!"

study of Picasso's "Guernica"

Inside the museum I was particularly struck by a number  of daring and emotional responses to the horrors of war. "Guernica"is a widely reproduced image that I had seen many times, but I wasn't prepared for the impact of the enormous painting and the experience of tension and turmoil that it evoked. Picasso is a master of abstraction and I really appreciated seeing the extensive collection of studies that led up to the final painting - figures, shapes, light & dark constantly being pushed and pulled, drawn over and over, in order to achieve the desired expression. A number of the studies focused on different ways of drawing the screaming mother cradling her dead child as if to capture and distill the overall terror and devastation caused by the bombing of Guernica (1937).

Francisco Goya "Y no hai remedio (And There's Nothing to Be Done)", Reina Sofia, Madrid

In Comparison, Goya's amazing "Disasters of War" series of etchings were small and detailed in scale, but no less epic in content or message.

José Ortega, "Pan, tierra, libertad (Bread, Land, Freedom)" Reina Sofia, Madrid.

One more favourite work from the Reina Sofia was Ortega's woodcut (1959), which was part of a collection of printmakers' visual protests in opposition to the Spanish dictator Franco. I was particularly attracted to the raw, expressive quality of the drawing and the interesting tones and marks left visible in the background.

Parque del Oeste, Madrid

Another day in Madrid I got terribly lost in the large Parque del Oeste while looking for the Ermita San Antonio de la Florida. It turned out to be a beautiful place to get lost and a good opportunity to try out the plastic fisheye camera that I recently inherited from my brother.

From the outside the Ermita San Antonio de la Florida (a Goya masterpiece and his burial place) was a small simple chapel, but inside were some of the most beautiful frescoes that I have seen. Goya was able to capture so much space and atmosphere with his soft, loose brushwork that I believed the central dome of the small chapel opened up to the sky. 


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