Andalusia, architecture, art, photography, Spain, spring, travel

Andalusian Art and Culture

Having been to Andalusia a few times now, I have a real appreciation of the lifestyle and culture, the laid-back attitude and, of course, the need for a siesta in the middle of the day…

Marbella is a lovely resort which has been revived and refreshed to something more like its 1960s heyday (although, thankfully you don’t need to be a millionaire to go there now!

Apart from the miles of golden beaches, the main draw of Marbella, for me, has to be the Old Town.

The Old Town is a winding maze of cobbled streets, cafes, restaurants and shops, selling everything from linen and cotton clothes and home furnishings, to local artisan shops and designer handbags, with wisteria, bougainvillea and hibiscus spilling over you from the balconies above.

Only 45 minutes away by a very reasonably priced direct bus, is Malaga, birthplace to the artist Pablo Ruiz y Picasso.  A beautiful city with architecture old and ancient a-plenty to feast your eyes upon, including this beautiful former Hospital and the Roman Amphitheatre ruins.

As Picasso’s home town, there are a number of Museums / Art Galleries – we decided to go to the Museo Picasso Malaga – which appeared to be the largest, but also had an additional exhibition on which we wanted to visit.

I must admit to never having been a big fan of Picasso, from the few pieces that I have seen, but my view has definitely shifted now, having seen the range of oeuvres including sculpture, ceramics, print-making and his early, more naturalistic paintings.

The additional exhibition was a touring exhibition called Energy Made Visible, focusing mainly on Jackson Pollock’s Mural which was commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim for her New York abode.

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Although I love Pollock’s drip painting, it was one of the rare occasions when the other exhibits – including those who both inspired and were inspired by Pollock – were more interesting than the main feature.

There were works from artists and photographers that I did not recognise, such as Barbara Morgan, Herbert Matter and this painting by Antonio Saura – La Grande Foule (the Great Crowd) which made more of an impression on me than Pollock’s work.

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Initially this looks a bit bleak, but in reality the faces vary from comical to the downright scary.  Being a complete geek, I couldn’t help but see a misshapen Darth Vader in the figure on the bottom row, just before the half-way mark.  Can you spot him?

My final surprise was to see a work by Andy Warhol, another artist who I have always thought was over-rated.  This work, entitled Yarn Painting was so eye-catching and bold.  Regular readers will know why I laughed when I found out the name of the work – as a mad-keen crafter, I spend half of my time looking at or working with fibres and yarns!

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This exhibition is on in Malaga until 11 September so, if you get a chance, take some time out and enjoy Andalucia!

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The naughty Neapolitan Salvator Rosa

Ever since I was a wee nipper (well since I lived in London in my 20s) I have been rather intrigued by the Italian painter, poet and philosopher (can I have a ‘P’ please Bob?) Salvator Rosa.  I first met him – well, his oeuvre, since he’s been dead over 300 years – in the National Gallery with the brooding, enigmatic self-portrait Philosophy

 

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Always having been a big fan of the dark, passionate type, I find his enigmatically grumpy face quite alluring – especially teemed with the inscription which loosely translates as “be silent unless what you have to say is better than silence”.  How true, I tell myself!

So, having again visited him recently, why do I like Rosa?

  1. He was mega talented.
  2. In his time he was incredibly popular and famous, yet no-one knows who he is – don’t we all enjoy having something secret that we don’t share with anyone – oh bugger, you all know now…
  3. His life (and paintings) are dark, brooding, mysterious – I like!
  4. He eschewed dull biblical paintings – on the whole – in favour of bandits, creatures of the dark, mythology and witches.
  5. Rosa was a rebel and refused to conform to popularity, causing arguments and localised stomping off and slamming of doors etc.
  6. Amazingly he was also an accomplished poet, philosopher, actor and musician.
  7. He scares schoolchildren (see below!)

In my latest visit I vox-popped (oo-er) the public and the guard on duty told me that schoolchildren are either terrified of, or intrigued by probably his most famous painting – Witches at their Incantations

 

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This painting does really need to be seen in the flesh, as a rather lovely beardy Frenchman told me “très creepy” – well actually that’s not what he said – rather “dark, interesting and creepy”.  Just like me, I wanted to add whilst gently stroking his beard (but I didn’t).  He then proceeded to gesticulate (in a Marcel Marceau-style mime) what I could only describe back to him as “droopy witches boobs”.  How disappointing…

Some other hippy-dippy folk thought it was “a conversation piece” and “nice to see something dark and disturbing for a change” – other than The Levellers perhaps?

The Dutch chap I spoke to was tremendously knowledgeable about the use of light as a positive juxtaposition of the dark subject matter.  I just stared and nodded as if I understood him.  I didn’t feel able to share with him my favourite part of the painting, the hideous frog-like apparition in the bottom right hand corner, who bears more than a scary likeness to Steven Tyler from Aerosmith.

 

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So if you are in Londinium pop into Room 32 of the National Gallery and have a look at these two paintings (not Steven Tyler though, but if he’s there see if he can spot the family resemblance).  At this time there are two other Rosa paintings there, so you will be spoilt for choice!

Happy art and crafting!

 

Lou

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