The artblog Reader Advisor

The artblog Reader Advisor

 

Tom Humphreys at What Pipeline

Tom Humphreys at What Pipeline

 

Aleksei Kruchenykh

Aleksei Kruchenykh

 

Olga Rozanova

Olga Rozanova

 

Pictures Punish Words. Avery Singer

Pictures Punish Words. Avery Singer

 

Some Parallels in Textiles and Composition

Some Parallels in Textiles and Composition

 

The Independent | La scrittura degli echi – NERO

The Independent | La scrittura degli echi – NERO

 

Launches new space with A Hundred Years of Shame

Launches new space with A Hundred Years of Shame

 

Issue 18 out now

Issue 18 out now

 

International Pop

International Pop

 

Trisha Brown: In Plain Site

Trisha Brown: In Plain Site

 

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei

 

Spring 2015 exhibitions

Spring 2015 exhibitions

 

Situation: Art School, All Teed Up

Situation: Art School, All Teed Up

 

Chelsea Arts Club

Chelsea Arts Club

 

WHAT’S ON: Hammer Projects: Lily van der Stokker, February 7 -…

WHAT’S ON: Hammer Projects: Lily van der Stokker, February 7 -…

 

Dan Rees at Tanya Leighton

Dan Rees at Tanya Leighton

 

News post – @the_barnes unearths Cezanne sketches, @FleisherOllman @thearmoryshow, Jeffrey Stockbridge ‘grams from London, opportunities and more!

News post – @the_barnes unearths Cezanne sketches, @FleisherOllman @thearmoryshow, Jeffrey Stockbridge ‘grams from London, opportunities and more!

 

Book review: Staging Disorder

Book review: Staging Disorder

 

New release by Hirmer: Pierre Huyghe

New release by Hirmer: Pierre Huyghe

 

Karl Holmqvist & Ei Arakawa at Overduin & Co.

Karl Holmqvist & Ei Arakawa at Overduin & Co.

 

Ding Yi: Ivory Black at ShanghArt

Ding Yi: Ivory Black at ShanghArt

 

Gentlemen. Peter Linde Busk

Gentlemen. Peter Linde Busk

 

NERO

NERO

 

Artist programs with Paul Chan, Badlands Unlimited, Monir Farmanfarmaian, David Batchelor, and Emily Jacir

Artist programs with Paul Chan, Badlands Unlimited, Monir Farmanfarmaian, David Batchelor, and Emily Jacir

 

[7] Places [7] Precarious Fields

[7] Places [7] Precarious Fields

 

Spring 2015 exhibitions

Spring 2015 exhibitions

 

Stary Mwaba

Stary Mwaba

 

Annual performance program

Annual performance program

 

Cynthia Lahti Bonnie Bronson Fellow

Cynthia Lahti Bonnie Bronson Fellow

 

Sisters at Untitled Art Society

Sisters at Untitled Art Society

 

The Walker Curates the News: 03.02.15

The Walker Curates the News: 03.02.15

 

The 3:00 Book

The 3:00 Book

 

Lina Viste Grønli at Gaudel de Stampa

Lina Viste Grønli at Gaudel de Stampa

 

Offshore Art: Artistic Strategies in a Ruined Democracy

Offshore Art: Artistic Strategies in a Ruined Democracy

 

David Lamelas

David Lamelas

 

Ellen Gronemeyer at Kimmerich

Ellen Gronemeyer at Kimmerich

 

Bananazz

Bananazz

 

Three Muddled Blueprints for Ruin

Three Muddled Blueprints for Ruin

 

Madrid

Madrid


Ceiling of the Museo Cerralbo.

Many critics have understood the film as an allegory of the oppression of the Franco regime. It conveys a sense of hallucinatory terror and powerlessness. Twenty-four years later, in 1998, the same actor starred in a TV ad for Retevisión, one of the telecommunications companies that challenged the dominance of the state-owned Telefónica during the right-wing Partido Popular’s (PP) drive towards neoliberal privatisation in the ’90s.

In the ad, Vazquez is once again trapped inside a telephone box, this time in the middle of a deserted moor. When he tries the door, however, it opens. He walks into freedom. The message is cynical, seeming to equate state ownership with Francoism and therefore privatisation with freedom.

Now the PP is once again in power; at the end of last year, a law was passed that prohibits protest outside parliament buildings. Spain has suffered a harsh recession; demonstrations in La Puerta del Sol in 2011 were a precedent to the global Occupy Movement, but also questioned the value of a democracy that was seemingly superimposed on the old system of fascism in the ’70s, when the PP was formed by one of Franco’s most prominent cabinet ministers. Due to the 1977 Amnesty Law, no crimes committed during the Franco era can be brought to trial; this has been defended under the bogus notion of silence in the service of peace, but rejected by the UN. The law is still enforced.

Indeed, the bar where we are drinking sherry and talking about La Cabina is La Venencia, which was frequented by Republicans during the Civil War in the late 1930s. Then, a ban on photography protected its patrons from Fascist spies; now the ban protects them from tourist blogs on the Hemingway trail. He drank here, as well as along the Calle de Victoria, a street of bullfighters’ bars, where we wandered earlier in the evening and passed a powerful piece of graffiti art: a matador in typically camp-machismo yellow and pink costume swipes his flag in the face of an angry black bull. Over this image of old Spain, a black A for Anarchy has been spray-painted.

Madrid

Graffiti on the Madrid streets.

Madrid is a place for drinking. I love the old bars with their sweltering trays of Ensalada Rusa on the counters, bright blue tiles, and gaudy fruit machines, which bring to mind the scene at the end of Bigas Luna’s 1992 film Jamón Jamón (Ham, Ham) when Silvia (Penélope Cruz) enters a bar somewhere in the Zaragozan desert, her white dress stuck to her skin, made see-through by the rain. Raul (Javier Barden) is playing on a fruit machine; he hoists her against it. Not wishing to avoid the obvious metaphor, all the images of fruit align; coins pour down.

The film is a celebration of sex and food. I love the legs of Jamón Ibérico that hang pornographically in shop windows all over Madrid. Jamón Ibérico is distinguished by its pata negra – black hoof. To be called la pata negra is apparently a chat-up line in Spain, which doesn’t translate well into English. ‘You are the black hoof’ sounds like an accusation of demonic possession.

My favourite artworks in Madrid are Goya’s 14 ‘Black Paintings’ (1819–23) in the Prado, which he originally painted straight onto the walls of his Deaf Man’s Villa on the outskirts of the city. Saturn Devouring His Son and Women Laughing remain thrillingly grotesque after many visits. The purpose of this visit, however, was to see five lesser-known museums, which are often overlooked in favour of the Prado and the Reina Sofia.

El Museo Cerralbo is the converted house of the Marquis de Cerralbo. It is grotesque in its own way – a Huysmans-esque celebration of obscene wealth. There is a male space for cigar-smoking and post-dinner political chat and a female space of floor to ceiling mirrors, ‘natural’ feminine narcissism and vacuity rendered in interior design. While the men contemplated the world, the women contemplated themselves. In El Museo Lázaro Galdiano, another art collector’s house converted into a museum, my favourite work was a 16th century golden bust of a female saint, her eyes downcast, her expression mystical and weird. A circular mirror is embedded in her chest, reflecting the viewer back to herself. This somehow implicates the viewer in the saint’s piety. Inside her, talismans were hidden.

We also visited El Museo de Romanticismo (The Museum of Romanticism) and saw Satire on Romantic Suicide (1839) by Leonardo Alenza. The painting shows a man with a wild beard in the process of throwing himself off a rocky precipice while simultaneously stabbing himself with a dagger. In the distance, someone is hanging from a tree. Due to the Peninsular War and slow industrialization, Romanticism came late to Spain; the painting is a late parody of the cult of suicide established 65 years previously by the publication of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774).

Madrid

Puerta del Sol.

Notable works in El Museo de Artes Decorativas (The Museum of Decorative Arts) were the dolls’ houses in which the dolls are all dressed up as nuns. They were exhibited in Spanish homes as proof of the purity of the women who lived there. We also visited El Museo Sorolla, the former home of the Valencian artist, Joaquín Sorolla (1863–1923). I don’t like his sentimental scenes of women and children wandering on beaches, but there is a quality in the portraits of his wife. Her face has a certain light. Spain does darkness best, however.

In a 1933 lecture given in Buenos Aires, the Andalucían poet, playwright, and theatre director Gabriel Garcia Lorca quoted his friend, the flamenco singer Manuel Torre: ‘All that has dark sounds has duende.’ The concept of duende has no direct translation in English; it is an ecstatic and painful loss of self that occurs in flamenco and other arts. Lorca explained: ‘Seeking the duende, there is neither map nor discipline. We only know it burns the blood like powdered glass, that it exhausts, rejects all the sweet geometry we understand, that it shatters styles and makes Goya… paint with his knees and fists in terrible bitumen blacks.’

Perhaps the most moving work that I saw on this trip was the statue of Lorca in Plaza de Santa Ana. He holds a dove, the bird of peace. The historical divisions in Spanish society are revealed by the fact that people on the left still tie a red handkerchief around his neck, and people on the right still take it off. Lorca was shot in 1936 by the Fascists during the Civil War and his body has never been found. His poetry collection, Poet in New York (1930), written when he was a 31-year-old student at Columbia University, missing his native country, is one of my favourite books. ‘Blind Panorama of New York’ includes the lines: ‘I have often lost myself / To find the burn that keeps everything awake’.

It seems Madrid is always awake. On a Saturday night in winter, all generations are out in La Puerta del Sol. The famous Tío Pepe sign has just been returned to its rightful place overlooking the square after being temporarily dislodged by Apple, which brought its old building. Called el luminoso due to its neon lights, the ad for the country’s best-selling sherry had survived the Civil War and the dictatorship. Its garish glow is reassuring.

Nearly a quarter of the labour force is currently unemployed in Spain. At the end of last year, a bankrupt businessman staged his own protest by driving his car straight into the glass façade of the PP headquarters in Madrid. The despair and absurdity of this act recall in spirit Mercero’s everyman, trapped in a telephone box for all eternity.

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Letter from the Editor, Clarinda Mac Low

Letter from the Editor, Clarinda Mac Low

 

From the Archives – Help Desk: Pressure to Review

From the Archives – Help Desk: Pressure to Review

 

To Be A Pinball. Dina Danish

To Be A Pinball. Dina Danish

 

March 2015

March 2015

 

2015 spring programme

2015 spring programme

 

Curatorial team appointed for SITElines.2016: New Perspectives on Art of the Americas

Curatorial team appointed for SITElines.2016: New Perspectives on Art of the Americas

 

Work Hard: Selections by Valentin Carron

Work Hard: Selections by Valentin Carron

 

Billy Apple

Billy Apple

 

SEA STATE

SEA STATE

 

Walt Disney

Walt Disney

 

Gregory Green

Gregory Green

 

History Is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain @ Hayward Gallery

History Is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain @ Hayward Gallery

 

Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector @ Barbican

Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector @ Barbican

 

Week in Review: March 1, 2015

Week in Review: March 1, 2015

 

ON VIEW @ SculptureCenterIn Practice: Under FoundationsFeaturing…

ON VIEW @ SculptureCenterIn Practice: Under FoundationsFeaturing…

 

Joaquín Torres García

Joaquín Torres García

 

With Oscar, Opera Philadelphia looks back to the last years of a literary icon’s life

With Oscar, Opera Philadelphia looks back to the last years of a literary icon’s life

 

The artblog Reader Advisor

The artblog Reader Advisor

 

“Rainbow” at Queer Thoughts

“Rainbow” at Queer Thoughts

 

From the Archives – Andrew Moore: Dirt Meridian at Yancey Richardson Gallery

From the Archives – Andrew Moore: Dirt Meridian at Yancey Richardson Gallery

 

Issue 55 out now

Issue 55 out now

 

6th edition

6th edition