Monday, December 27, 2010


The man and I, with Youngest in tow, went off to Caixa Forum today - possibly my very favourite museum in BCN.  We went to see an exhibit about Spanish painting in the 50s and 60s, which was very good though small.  There were two Picassos in there that were stunning.  It was lovely to see just two in a context of other work.  He so stands out.

We also tried to read the bumph for this exhibit in the English pamphlet.  Incomprehensible.  Completely.  We ended up copy-editing the work over coffee.  It was truly terrible. Truly.  I lodged a formal complaint and affixed my marked up copy of the work.  Here's hoping we get some work out of it!  Cheeky, no?

Then we went into another exhibit Rutes d'Aràbia which was amazing.  I found that my view of the Arabian peninsula was embarrassingly flat and uni-dimensional.  There has been such a rich mass of activity going on there for thousands of years and there is so much amazing archaeology going on there which I knew nothing at all about, and frankly know I now mostly know a sense of how little I know.  Absolutely fascinating.

Another point which I found fascinating I can only illustrate with some rather poor photos of my sketches from today.  If you look at the three faces at the bottom of the first photo, they are quite stylised.  prominent eyebrows formed by shallow half-circles, really half-elipses and a roughly long rectangular nose widening to a flat bottom wider than the top, though not significantly.  See?

Now these noses are drawn from a variety of images through the show, which begins with the neolithic and moves right on through the modern day.  Once the advent of Islam appears, however, there are fewer images of faces as one would expect.

Then at the very end of the show there was a photo of one of the kings, from 1910.  I was strongly struck by the basic similarities between his face and the older ones.  Strong largely rounded eyebrows, clearly outlined almond shaped eyes and a strong largely rectangular nose ending slightly wider than at the top and quite flat.  See?

OK, I am not sure how striking this is in the sketches I have to work with, but it struck me hard.

I am not sure where to go with this.  I wonder if the image was curated that way, probably so.  These things are hardly tossed together on the back of a napkin.  Maybe, as Youngest put it, maybe some of his great-great-great-great ancestors were the very ones in the images earlier in the exhibit.

Maybe some of them were.


Lovely, lovely fascinating day.


thecatalanway said...

Great to see your drawings - I went to the Arabian exhibit a couple of weeks ago and promised myself a return trip alone with a pad and pencil to do some sketching. I too found it very informative and fascinating. Wasn't the golden door amazing? and those huge torsos. I did sneak a couple of photos - when I get round to writing on the blog about it I will add them and hope I wasn't breaching some rule. there were no signs forbidding it! and mainly I want them as an aide memoire if I ever get round to making some sculpture again!
It's great to go to Barcelona isn't it? And aren't we lucky that we can?

J.G. said...

Sounds like a feast for the eyes and brain. I'm always humbled by how little I know about the world, when an exhibit like this opens a whole new door. So many gaps in my education, so many important things I am clueless about! Including these noses.

On another note, I see you are using your *ell medium, yes?

oreneta said...

Catway....It is worth asking in the museums if you can take photos, often here it is not a problem at all. Paris, not so much, but most of them here you can snap away to your hearts content. Indeed Caixa Forum has virtual tours on line and all. I'd like to go back to the Barceló exhibit. If you get a chance to go before it all ends, he is from Mallorquina and widely viewed as one of the most important artists working in Spain at this time. It is an astonishing show and well worth the visit. Closes the 9th of Jan so you'll have to work at it, but I'd urge you to go. I'm thinking of going back again before it closes.

JG; it is truly humbling to realise how little we know, even when we start to kid ourselves that we are a little educated. Goodness.

thecatalanway said...

Hi there oreneta. I must have forgotten to check the 'send me notice of other comments' button so I just found your reposnse now! I came back to have a look at this post again ( how's that for a compliment?) And it reminded me that due to flu and family illness I haven't got back to the Arabia exhibition so far. Wonder if it is still on as I am going tomorrow. Barcelo - we went to a big retrospective when we were in Madrid last year. I had never heard of him before and was blown over by it. Missed it in Barcelona unfortunately this time. By the way, I love the way we all have to invent strange ways of describing our families, to avoid naming them. Youngest, The Man, S.O. etc etc. I haven't quite found a name for 'he who does not want to be named or photographed' but I do have the Resident Adolescent which my sister thought funny!

oreneta said...

Kate, he who does not want to be named or photographed is a rather hefty handle and would definitely increase the time needed to write a post. I do like resident adolescent a lot, though I am heading into having two, which should up the anti a little.

Glad you liked the post, I am pretty sure that the Routes of Arabia show is still on for a while longer, though they have a good website, you should be able to look it up.