Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Spain (part 11)

study of the choir benches in the Mezquita, Cordoba

The day I arrived in Cordoba the sun was shining and the river was sparkling! Looking back at the city from across the Roman bridge was truly magnificent. For me, like many visitors, the highlight was the remarkable Mezquita, extraordinary in design and detail as well as a great example of the contrast between Islamic and Christian architecture. The Mezquita visually preserves the fluctuations in power in the history of the region featuring remnants of Roman, Moorish and Christian occupation in the one structure. My favourite part of the Christian section was the Choir, in particular the wooden choir benches with their elaborate carvings, which in some cases told biblical stories while in other places seemed to simply describe sinister or mischievous gargoyle-like figures.

Organ from the Choir, Mezquita, Cordoba

In the Islamic section my favourite parts were the very beautiful, geometric forms and patterns of the arches and domes.

Mezquita, Cordoba

Cordoba's old town was fascinating to wander through, and I became very interested in the marks, and meeting points, of order and disorder that I observed while walking the narrow streets:

I also enjoyed the Alcazar, a grand palace with especially wonderful gardens, and Palacio de Viana, a historical residence with extensive private collections of furniture, crockery, leather etc as well as some great tapestries designed by Goya. 

An unexpected, but fabulous exhibition in Cordoba was "Picasso Grabador," presented on the lower floor of the CajaSur bank.  As with the Caixaforum museums, it was interesting to see another example of Spanish banks creating opportunities for people to see great artwork for free. "Picasso Grabador" featured some of the lithographs that I saw in Malaga, but focused more strongly on his etchings, including some examples of his copper plates. A great series of portraits revisiting the face of Ambroise Vollard using various etching techniques really inspired me to think more about mark-making and how it can add to or alter the effect of an image.

Picasso, "Portrait of Vollard II"

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