Alfredo Hlito

Today I saw this painting by Alfredo Hlito, an Argentinian painter who was one of the pioneers of abstract art in his country. I don’t know what was his inspiration, but perhaps it had something to do with hair? It reminds me of the accidental drawings I see on the walls of my shower.

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He also does circles, spirals, and shading:

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Searching for Sugarman

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Great news: Searching for Sugarman won the Oscar for best documentary! A well-deserved victory for a fascinating film (with great music).

If you haven’t seen it –see it!

Here’s a song in his honour…


Seduced by Art

Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present is an interesting exhibition which presents paintings of the great masters alongside photography from the 19th Century to the present. The exhibition allows and encourages the viewer to see how painting has influenced photography, and also serves as an introduction to the history of photography.

As well as paintings and photographs the exhibition also includes videos. “Still Life” by Sam Taylor-Wood, and “Big Bang” by Ori Gersht were, for me, the most memorable pieces in the exhibition.

Still Life

The concept for this video is very simple yet very beautiful. The artist, Sam Taylor-Wood, has recorded a bowl of fruit slowly rotting. We observe the whole process of decomposition, from the first glimpse of fuzzy mould growing on the apples, peaches, pears, and grapes, to the end where all that remains are some small grey lumps. A fascinating video!

Bing Bang 

Israeli artist Ori Gersht froze a bouquet of flowers with liquid nitrogen and then recorded as it exploded and shattered into a thousand pieces. It’s shocking, beautiful, and mesmerising all at once. Gersht says, “I’m interested in those oppositions of attraction and repulsion, and how the moment of destruction in the exploding flowers becomes for me the moment of creation.” (Here you can see a slightly better version of “Big Bang”)

I’m also including another video I found by Ori Gersht, “Pomegranate”.

Seduced by Art is now showing in CaixaForum Barcelona and will be showing in CaixaForum Madrid from the 18th of June.


Andes

Ted Carrasco

Ted Carrasco, Andes, 1988. granite. Olympic Park, Seoul, North Korea

Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer; but Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed. She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.

Extract from De Profundis by Oscar Wilde

Ted Carrasco/Oscar Wilde

Ted Carrasco is a Bolivian sculptor inspired by nature and especially by his native Andes. For him the powerful Andean landscape is a symbol of life and his work explores man’s relationship with it. In his sculpture Andes (1988) he depicts the Earth goddess Pachamama, the sensuous embodiment of nature itself. From this photograph it’s hard to make it out, but it is supposed to represent Pachamama as “a reclining woman-mountain with an altar on her belly, her genitals serving as a doorway to the secrets of life.” I would love to see it in the flesh and stare for a good while. It’s a bit far, but a great excuse to go to North Korea!

De Profundis is a letter written by Oscar Wilde in 1897 while he was in prison, the title refers to a latin prayer, a cry of appeal expressing one’s deepest feelings of sorrow or anguish. In the letter he describes his spiritual growth during his imprisonment and writes about his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas and the extravagant lifestyle which led to his imprisonment for gross indecency.

Just like Ted Carrasco’s sculpture, this extract from Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis is also inspired by the relationship between man and nature, written at a time of immense physical and emotional hardship when he turned to nature and spirituality for relief. Two beautiful and evocative works of art.


Your Latest Trick

A song before bed…


Why I am not a Buddhist

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I love desire, the state of want and thought
of how to get; building a kingdom in a soul
requires desire. I love the things I’ve sought-
you in your beltless bathrobe, tongues of cash that loll
from my billfold- and love what I want: clothes,
houses, redemption. Can a new mauve suit
equal God? Oh no, desire is ranked. To lose
a loved pen is not like losing faith. Acute
desire for nut gateau is driven out by death,
but the cake on its plate has meaning,
even when love is endangered and nothing matters.
For my mother, health; for my sister, bereft,
wholeness. But why is desire suffering?
Because want leaves a world in tatters?
How else but in tatters should a world be?
A columned porch set high above a lake.
Here, take my money. A loved face in agony,
the spirit gone. Here, use my rags of love.

By Molly Peacock


Caricatures and Calçots

Having guests this weekend lent the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the best Tarragona has to offer at this time of year. Unfortunately with less than 48 hours we could only scratch the surface, but we had a lot of fun!

Here are the highlights:

Nit de la Caricatura

Café Metropol organizes lots of cool events and gigs, but even on a regular night it’s a great place to hang out and have a drink. This particular Saturday they hosted the Nit de la Caricatura (Caricature Night) where four caricature artists (including Tziqui and El Chico Triste) drew caricatures of whoever chose to sit for them for a price of only €2. It was great watching the artists at work and seeing their remarkable illustrations unfold, they managed to capture their subject perfectly each time –warts and all! We were so engrossed in drinks, caricatures, and conversations, before we knew it it was 4 am!

Calçotada

The Calçotada is a Catalan tradition which originated in the town of Valls. The calçot is a vegetable particular to Cataluña, something in between an onion and a leek, which is cooked on a fire until the outside is burnt. To eat them you must take off the outer leaves so that you’re left with the nice and moist interior which you dip in a special sauce called salsa romesco (made of tomatoes, garlic, hazelnuts, almonds, and roasted red peppers), a delicious combination! In a calçotada you have calçots and their sauce, plus grilled meats and vegetables, and plenty of red wine, all in the company of good friends. The calçot season is in February/March, so if you’re in the area during these months, make sure to put this in your agenda.


Atmospheric Disturbances

From Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen:

“I’ve always been quite logical, quite traditionally so, for example I put my least frequently worn clothing in the bottom drawer, which is the most uncomfortable to reach. […] And when I first got Rema’s number I purposefully didn’t enter it into my cell phone so as to keep myself from calling her too often. Instead I taped her number onto my refrigerator, which meant I could have lost it –it could have fallen, been swept away– but I knew the risk was an essential one and so, being rational, I took it”

Atmospheric Disturbances is a quirky love story set in New York, Buenos Aires, and Patagonia. The main character is a somewhat-mad psychiatrist who is convinced one day that his wife is not really his wife but has been replaced by an impostor who looks exactly like her. This is a touching, funny, and unusual story with many memorable lines. Plus, it has a cool cover (I know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but when it comes to books I have to disagree!).

So if you’re looking for a fun and unusual read (or a great V-Day present) pop down to your local bookshop and pick up a copy :)

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Carnaval!

Two weekends ago was the Calçotada Festival in Valls, last weekend was Cós Blanc in Salou, and this weekend was Carnaval in Tarragona! This is what I love about living in Spain, there is never a dull moment.

Carnival in Tarragona lasts one week, though the most important days are the Saturday and Tuesday. Saturday is the day of the main procession of floats and revelers, accompanied by music and hundreds of spectators watching in their own elaborate costumes. The costumes can be anything from Superman to chickens to mustard sachets and everything in between, but whatever it is, people take it very seriously (kids and adults alike!). The costumes in the band are also elaborate, but closer to the flamboyant carnival of Rio (glitter, beads, and feathers abound).

Tuesday is the day of the big finale, known as El Entierro de la Sardina (the burial of the sardine), or El Entierro de Carnestoltes (the burial of Carnestoltes), which is a ritualistic cremation of Carnestoltes, the King of Carnival. Carnestoltes represents carnival, and his cremation symbolises the end of the carnival season and the start of Lent.

The night starts with a solemn procession of folkloric characters and drummers who carry Carnestoltes along the Rambla Nova and up to the main square, Plaça de la Font. Men and women dressed in funeral clothes follow Carnestoltes, weeping and mourning the end of the carnival season. Once at the Plaça, a “notary” reads the last will and testament of Carnestoltes, a satirical poem which references and mocks events of the last year. Then the figure of Carnestoltes is carried to a pyre, covered in gasoline and lit on fire. Simultaneously starts the Ball de Diables, a Catalan tradition where men dressed as devils dance in a circle holding giant spinning sparklers. The effect is exciting and chaotic. If you enjoy this, make sure to come back in September for the biggest festival of Tarragona: Santa Tecla!

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Saturday parade

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Reading of the last will and testament

Cremation of Carnestoltes

Cremation of Carnestoltes

Ball de Diables

Ball de Diables

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Vertical Pools

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Ever since I first saw these vertical pools on the road between Reus and Tarragona I was intrigued. Today, about two and a half years later, I finally got around to photographing them.

There’s something surreal and enigmatic about this image which draws me to it and gets my creative juices flowing.  I like the shapes and shades which break into the monotonous landscape, they feel so out of place in the middle of  this big highway and the great thing is they give a bit of magic to the otherwise ugly industrial surroundings. They almost look like swimming pools in the sky.

It’s poetic, absurd, bizzarre, mystical. It makes me want to draw and it makes me want to write –just think what great stories could be hidden here! It’s full of potential.

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