Palma Art trail

Well, I got a music fix on Day 1 and have the delights of Radio National Classica on the TV in my room. It’s a cross between Radio 3 and Classic FM and plays an interesting mix of material. So Palma Day 2 today is devoted to the visual arts alongside coffee, beer, wine and other tourist activities. The hotel is very close to one of the island’s most important museums of contemporary so I headed there first after my surprisingly included breakfast. So long since I booked I’d forgotten it was a B&B deal. The joys of a Spanish hotel buffet again -with so much to choose from!

The Esbaluard Museu has a series of terraces with sculptures displayed and then inside has four distinct exhibitions on at the moment.

One by a Mexican artist Elena Del Rivero was very impressive with a variety of installations and community project artworkS which the museum’s photos convey better than I can.

An Elena del Rivero piece ‘Chant’ in which she sews found letters onto a gauze drape.

There was a rather overly political photo collage project by Rogelio Lopez Cuenca and Elo Vega about the despoiling of the island by tourism – maybe I just felt guilty! I did like one room though with twelve male mannequins in Hawaiian shirts watching touristy footage. They just missed having towels on loungers.

I was much taken by glass sculptures by the aptly named Lara Fluxa given the fluidity of the pieces highlighting how glass is flowing until it settles into a form. I found the variety of her work from thin and flighty to more solid and serious quite affecting.

The fourth exibit was called Masks against Barbarism and had as a central focus a sound piece of scenes from Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi alongside a series of other images from many different artists. The Jarry piece was especially interesting for me as my directorial debut was in 1964 when I produced a version of an earlier Jarry play Ubu sur la Butte as University College French Department’s entry in the annual Lycée Français intercollegiate competition. It won best actor but not best director (sad face) but gave me a lifelong interest in surrealism and the poetry of protest.

All in all a very enjoyable and stimulating couple of hours after which I set off towards the cathedral which dominates the city from every angle. It is a very impressive edifice but is closed for public visits until the New Year so I didn’t get to go inside – I guess I could go to mass on Christmas Day, after all I did go see the pope’s Christmas Day address in Rome a few years back.

But right beside it is the Almudaina Palace and since that’s the name of my hotel it would be wrong not to wouldn’t it? I’ve been struck by how there are far fewer examples of Spain’s moorish heritage here than in most other cities. However the name and the fact that it has Arab Baths makes it plain that they did get here. The original Arab fortress was seized after the expulsion as a Royal Palace for the kings of Mallorca and is full of massive rooms with various functions over the years. It also has great vaulted ceilings, faded tapestries and outside an impressive cactus garden.

I had high hopes of my next art stop and so paused for a beer outside one of the most photographed facades in Palma. You see it on postcards and publicity for the city and is is a fine example of decorative retail art. They have great bread and cakes too.

On my way I was able to pass through Plaza Frederic Chopin and think of my Polish friend Jadwiga Adey at home alone as her family based in Paris and LA are not allowed to join her. When I rent a car I’ll go to Valldemossa where Chopin lived with George Sand for a year. He was in poor health but managed a burst of great creativity.

When I got there, the Fundacio March (big Mallorca banking family) was something of a disappointment. Among some workmanlike but uninspiring abstracts, paintings by Dali, Juan Gris and Picasso just emphasised the gulf between OK art and great art. So I left there and had a further wander through the streets of the old town with a few refreshment stops enjoying people watching frantic last minute Christmas shoppers in the trendy thoroughfare that must have been named for me – Carrer San Miguel.

It was announced on the news that from tomorrow (24th) masks are compulsory in the streets again.

So it’s off to he city’s other trendy thoroughfare, the Passeig de Born to eat this evening amid the Christmas decorations and noisy revellers. it’s such fun to be elsewhere! And it’s 16-17 degrees. Sorry!

We discovered once before that most restaurants close on Christmas Eve – Nochebuena – so I was glad that the hotel offered me a special menu de nochebuena in an email a couple of weeks ago. I’m due to eat at 21:00 so having got back from today’s further art excursion, I thought I’d get another blog down. What with tonight’s dinner and Christmas lunch out in the country tomorrow, it may be a while before the next one. The wonderful world of Joan Miro is next.

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