Sunday, August 7, 2011

Spain (part 13)

In Valencia I stayed across the street from the amazing Mecardo Central, a brilliant fresh food market where I purchased kilos of strawberries and cherries as well as other favourites like Jamon (cured ham) and Queso de Cabra (goats cheese) while gaining a liking for Valencia's famous drink Horchata (made of earth almonds). My hostel was next-door to La Llonja, a gothic silk exchange building with beautiful twisted columns. Not far away the sculpted facades of the Cathedral and Palacio de Marques de los Aguas were also gorgeous. In contrast to the historic architecture, Valencia is home to the fabulous space-age architecture of the City of Arts and Sciences (a huge science museum & aquarium complex), with a variety of unusually shaped buildings that can only be described as out of this world!

Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias sketch

Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias

In Valencia, I was grateful to receive an extremely warm welcome at the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM) where I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of curators who introduced me to the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. I was even able to see an exhibition of contemporary Brazilian art, which was still in the process of being installed - "A Giant by Thine Own Nature" featuring an amazing line drawing, by Sandra Cinto, evocative of the cosmos.

The permanent collection focused on the work of artist Julio González, primarily a sculptor with a great ability to use flat planes and linear pieces of iron to analyse, assemble and abstract compositions of shape and space often based on the human figure.

Julio González

Temporary exhibitions included "Masterpieces of Painting in the Collection of IVAM. Past, Present, Future," a broad survey of trends in 20th century painting, and "Ignacio Pinazo", 19th century figurative painter and his studies leading to the painting "The Smoke of Love". However, I most enjoyed Liliane Tomasko's exhibition "Luminous matter" which approached everyday domestic subjects like stacks of clothes and window-sills in an ambiguous, painterly way, treading the borderline between abstraction and representation while employing subtle shifts in colour and light to create mysterious, transcendent spaces.

Liliane Tomasko, "Yellow Light Folding", 2010

The historical art museum in Valencia, Museo de Bellas Artes San Pio V, was also very welcoming and I had a lovely guide who helped me to learn a lot, particularly about the layout and meaning of early multi-paneled altar paintings (14 and 15th Century), which are quite unbelievable combinations of painting and sculpture, and a very important part of the museum's collection.

Nicolás Falcó y Onofre, Damián y Pablo Forment, "Retablo Eucarístico del Convento de la Puridad de Valencia"

For me the other highlight of the Museo de Bellas Artes San Pio V was definitely Ribera's "San Sebastian Atendido por Santa Irene" for his amazing command of anatomy and gesture, dramatic use of light, and the strong contrast between the almost peaceful expression on San Sebastian's face and the contorted tension in his body.

Ribera, "San Sebastian Atendido por Santa Irene"

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