Monday, February 24, 2014

Moorish Spain's Cordoba Magic.Mosque or church?.

Interior Cordoba Cathedral.

Cordoba Magic.

Nothing quite prepares you for the magic and impact of Aljama Mosque’s labyrinth of columns that greet the visitor on entering Cordoba Cathedra in Cordoba. No photo can ever do justice to the sheer beauty and simplicity of this building as the sea of tiered columns stretch away into seeming infinity.


The world’s largest Islamic monument and I believe third largest mosque conveys a feeling of spirituality that is almost impossible to ignore or explain greets you. Such is this impact of the interior that the Christian church built within the walls after the Moorish departure from Spain fail to create a similar feeling. The integration of Gothic and Baroque architectural detail although sensitively handled to complement the Moorish arches fail to convey the same sense of religious purpose. I must confess I am not a great devotee of Spanish Catholic church building that always seems to me overly indulgent.


This display wealth and self-indulgence fails to inspire the same spiritual qualities as the mosaic Mibrab wall at the far end of the interior. The aesthetic impact of both Mibrah and Maqsura hold and transfix the majority of onlookers despite the abstract nature of the design. During my visit this section of the building by far attracted the most visitors. These wall appear to overpower all the Catholic statuary and religious painting crammed into every available space. Gold is all very well and no doubt displays a feeling of security, but it also conveys a greater concern about self-importance than religious belief. 

I spent the several hours in this wonderful building drawing and just sitting among the sheer beauty of the interior. However It is a great pity that the Catholic Church has neglected to maintain the building exterior walls were large sections are in a state of slow disintegration.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Musical Truth about Wolves & Dogs.

Located near Antequera in Southern Spain there is an establishment that specializes in Wolves.
Yes wolves, were on the nights of the full moon visitors may experience various groups of singers
in full throat.
The experience reminded me of my own personal howling nights, when my two dogs would join me
in a sing-song. At the time I was trying to learn to play the piano accordion and would diligently practice for an hour or so each night. Eventually my four legged friends found me and would politely sit at my feet and howl as soon as I started to play and wishing to offer their support. Eventually when ever I picked up the instrument they would come running anxious to join the concert. I'm not sure whether they were man's best friend, but definitely an art event.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Art Nouveau and Deco in Salamanca, Spain. A replacement for cheap mass production.

                                   Front view of Salamanca's Museum of Art Nouveau & Deco Art.

Museum of Art Nouveau & Art Deco in Salamanca, Spain.


Tucked away down a cobble stone street I discovered this little gem of a museum housed in an Art Nouveau Mansion.  This new art developed out of a desire to find new possibilities and design solutions inherent in each material towards the end of the 19th cent .Built by Don Miguel de Lis, a Salamanca merchant the palace seems to be a perfect home for these defining art movements of the late 19th. and early 20th cent. The palace boast’s an exhilarating stained glass ceiling in the entrance reception room, a display of colour and movement. Then on the western side of the building overlooking the river another wall of stained glass that has to be seen at dusk to fully appreciate its full beauty.


                                                                    Museum ceiling.

The palace like many aspects of life had fallen into disrepair before civic authorities in Salamanca restored it in 1992, creating this unbelievable museum delectated to Art Nouveau and Deco Art movements. Don Manual Ramos Andrade generously donated his collection of these periods decorative masterpieces giving birth to this museum. This gem of a place must be one the must see sights not to be missed by any visitor. It holds a fine collection of Chiparus Preiss and Poertzel bronze and ivory sculptures, along with Hoffmann and many others. The Preiss figurines of carefree dancers of the  music hall period between the wars are well represented. These bronze and ivory sculptures are because of the materials of which they are made are one off art works, bronze castings but hand carved ivory additions. The Romanian artist Demetre Chiparus who settled in Paris produced an extraordinary range of sculptures inspired by the dance performances of Diaghilev’s Russian Ballet Company. These images present a fitting image of the new modern women of the times in her new sense of freedom.


In addition to the sculptural collection, the museum contains a defining display of period art glass and porcelains, both figures and functional objects from such workshops studios of Rene Lalique and Emile Galle all add to the museum reputation. This is a collection that Salamanca must be proud of and personally I can’t  speak too highly of it. A visit to which should be a must to any art lover to Salamanca.
I would like to acknowledge the following photos taken from the museum book Chryselephantines
                                       One hundred pleats by  Chiparus. bronze, ivory, marble.

                                        Egyptian Dancer by  Chiparus. bronze, ivory, marble.

                                                               Starlight. by Chiparus.

                                               Pierrot by Hoffmann. bronze, ivory, marble.

                                          Chinese Pheasant by Lorenzl. bronze, ivory. onyx.

                                                Flute Player by Press. bronze, ivory, onyx.

                                             The Cigarette by Gory. bronze, ivory, marble.

                                           Knife Dancer by Hoffmann. bronze, ivory marble.