Tag Archives: picasso

Picasso y el flamenco

Another in the occasional series by our roving arts reporter, David Smith

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You all know Malaga; some fly over it, some drive round it, others sail past it but few stay in the city.  Well we did, and what a surprise: three days in Malaga!

I had no idea that the airport in Malaga was so big; it was huge….and it was raining. I am sure that it isn’t supposed to rain in Spain once you are off the plane! It was raining cats and dogs…wait, more than that…more like donkeys and elephants…it was torrential.

When we arrived at the hotel we were met with apologies: it was flooded.  We had to move.

The taxi dropped us off by the new hotel, much closer to the centre of the old town we were assured.  The driver vaguely waved at a bell by a doorway, indicated he could go no further and promptly left.  It was still raining.  I rang the bell… nothing… and again… nothing.  We fled to a cafe across the road and waited.  I rang the first hotel.  The number they had given me was their fax machine!  I ran through the rain again to press the bell again… nothing!  Soaked by this time I decided to look for another entrance; walked round the corner of the building to find that it was a pedestrianised area.  No wonder the taxi could go no further.  I found the main entrance to the hotel with a smiling and welcoming reception… what a fool I had been!  What a start to our three days in Malaga.

After borrowing umbrellas and finding a place to eat we were assured by a still smiling reception that tomorrow all would be well.

malaga cathedralMorning was bathed in glorious sunshine.  The Cathedral is always a good place to start.  It lies in the centre of the old town.  It was gloriously full of light.  The great paintings which formed the reredos of many of the chapels, so disappointingly dark in many of the other cathedrals we have visited, were wonderfully bright, full of vibrant colour.  It was a pleasure just to sit and look at them trying to work out which biblical story they illustrated before venturing over to read the small print.  The wood carvings on the choir stalls are magnificent.

After the Roman amphitheatre we began the steep climb to the Moorish Fort: the Alcazaba, which overlooks the city.  I confess that we gave up, came back down and took a taxi to the Parador which stands above the fortress to sip mint tea and cold beer to admire views along the coast and the city below.

parador-de-malaga-gibralfaro

flamenco

The evening offered live flamenco in a tiny theatre close to the Picasso Museum with a free glass of cava. Three dancers, one male, a guitarist and a singer offered an evening of fury and passion.  I love flamenco: the noise of the dancers’ heels on the wooden boards, the wail of singer,  the drama in the faces of the women as they feel their way into the dance, the spray of sweat from the dancer’s hair as he shakes his head.

It is as if they are dancing for themselves, ignoring our presence; yet we are totally engaged.  Fantastic!

Exhausted we fall into the street for another glass of cava to recover.

The following day the Picasso Museum is a joy.  I have enjoyed the reopening of his museum in Paris but I enjoyed this much more.

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There’s a real feel of chronology as we are met with work from Picasso’s childhood and taken through his life into his 90’s.  The works are beautifully and spaciously hung, breathing life into the white walls, exploding with colour.  My only regret was that I saw nothing from his ‘blue period’.

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Sitting in the museum’s shaded courtyard, sipping cold beer with music from a Spanish guitar drifting over the walls, I thought: ‘Hmm…I will come here again…’

Art gazing is tiring so what next?  The answer is obvious: two hours in a Turkish spa:  Hamman al Andalus, hot and cold bathing, hot stones, and a massage!

 

David Smith

Three days in Paris

Another blog in the series from our roving arts & culture reporter David Smith

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Day 1

Ten  years ago I was in Paris with Nick (MPA Creative Director) for the opening of the new Mac Val Gallery of contemporary French art in Vitry-sur-Seine.  Nick had been invited to make a presentation on the Panopticons project with a special focus on the Singing Ringing Tree.  I had volunteered to carry his bags.

With a couple of hours to spare, whilst Nick was honing his presentation, I visited the Picasso Museum in the Marais Quarter of Paris.  What a disappointment it was.  Many pieces were on loan, the museum was dull and the organisation of the collection left me uninspired.

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Last month I returned.  What a transformation.  Having been closed for a considerable time for refurbishment the Museum reopened 18 months ago with a new curator.  Picasso’s works are displayed in chronological order with sketches, paintings and sculptural works side by side.  It allows you to make a journey through the museum which follows Picasso’s creative process: carvings, engravings, sketches, photographs, ceramics, paintings and sculptures. The collection is huge; in fact, most of the works were given to France to settle his unpaid tax bills!

The Museum includes a roof top garden used to display some larger sculptures in a quiet, peaceful setting; perfect to sit, muse, rest your feet and take it all in…and I love this quotation from Picasso:

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Day 2 morning

A visit to the Opera Garnier began my second day.  From the outside the building is stunning.  If you have never been you will know it as the setting for the Phantom of the Opera.paris - 2

Much of the lighting depended on candlelight which, of course led to blackened walls and ceilings.  In the 1960’s when the time came to restore the ceiling of the auditorium above the great chandelier – and yes it did actually fall down on one occasion in 1896 and killed a member of the audience! – they couldn’t afford the cost of restoration.  A French artist who was working on set and costume design for opera offered his services for which, I believe he was never paid…his name, Marc Chagall.  The ceiling is magnificent:

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 Day 2 afternoon

Have you ever shopped in Leeds and visited those lovely Victorian glass covered arcades?

Well; from the Opèra Garnier, I was led around ‘Les Passages Couverts‘ – 19th. century, glass roofed shopping galleries. They provide hidden corners of superb architecture full of cafes, antiquarian bookshops, shops for stamps, coins and art – a fascinating experience.

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Day 3

My final day took me back in the direction of the airport to Auvers-sur-Oise , the village where Van Gogh spent his last 70 days before his premature death.  During this  period he painted 70 pieces yet during his whole short life he sold only one painting – to his brother!  He died as he lived, in poverty.  In the village you can follow a trail: ‘In the steps  of Van Gogh’ which take you from the café where he rented a room, through the village to the church and finally to his grave where he and his brother lie side by side beside a field of sunflowers.  It is a very moving story and a moving journey.

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