Tapas and Tapies

So refreshed with my tapas in the Cerveseria Catalana and buzzing with my visit to Casa Battlo, I thought it was time for a bit more art exploration.

As I came from the station to the hotel on my arrival I had walked past this fine building with its wild bird’s nest hair. It’s the Antoni Tapies Foundation. I’ve seen Tapies’ work in other galleries but thought I’d take a look. Entry was free with my trusty Barcelona card so even more incentive. There were two exhibitions – one showing Tapies’ increasing use of varnish to affect the outcome, the other to Bruce Conner of whom I confess. I had not heard.

My first surprise was that although the building looked like it would be a gallery, I had to descend a flight of stairs to get to the subterranean exhibition space. Excavating basements may be popular in London now among the wealthy, but Barcelona has clearly been doing it for ages. As well as this space, I’ve walked past loads of Parkings with precipitous descents to way-below-street garages – glad I didn’t rent a car this trip as entrances are frighteningly narrow as well and I did recall wedging a Transit van on the way into a car park right beside the Callao metro station in Madrid while on a shoot there some years ago.

The Tapies space itself was light and airy with a suitably small number of paintings and objects displayed. They covered 30 years of his work from 1958 when he was awarded the Carnegie medal for painting, to 1988. I liked in particular his surrealistic deconstructed chair and several of the sinuous marks he’d made with painting and overlaid varnish. And of course there’s always the coarse one – he had a thing about the black letter X. Have a look.

The other exhibit a further floor below was of work by Bruce Conner who’d escaped me but according to the descriptions on the wall was ‘the father of the video clip’. There were nine films in all ranging from three to fifteen minutes. The first was a horrific observation of the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb test, the next a sequence-shifting report on the assassination of JFK. Others were lighter – a piece called Looking for Mushrooms with music by Terry Riley,a noted consumer of same, so was all kaleidoscopic, psychedelic monochrome magic. Others used animation and effects considerably ahead of his time. I’m not always a big fan of video installations as art but these were eye-opening and thought-provoking. They also covered the period 1958 to 1976.

I stopped off at a supermarket on the way back to lay in beer, wine and brandy for the week ahead. Dee and I always liked a drink in our room to gather ourselves before going out to eat and old habits die hard. As I started writing the first blog I realised that I’d forgotten to bring the charger for the iPad mini on which I write, so scribbling would have to wait for tomorrow. So I got to my fine pigs’ cheeks a little earlier than might have been.

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