Monday, March 8, 2010

Hola From Barca

As you can see my Spanish is coming long nicely. I don't know the Spanish for "from" but two out of three can't be bad.

It's pretty damn cool here I tell you. The influence and feel of Gaudi is everywhere, the architecture is totally fantastic, more gothic than Gotham City itself. We've seen the Sagrada Familia once already and I can't wait to see it once it's finished, it will be bit special. I'm intuitive with these things you know.

Yesterday was C's birthday and we went to the local Picasso museum. Now you know me, I'm hardly the art aficionado. Obviously I know about Picasso from his perfume and work with Citroen but that's about the extent of my knowledge. Oh, and that he was a man who had periods too, that's some achievement.

We turned up at the museum only a few minutes walk from our hotel and were immediately confronted with a queue longer than the average one outside a European Embassy in Colombo, it was that long. Our immediate reaction was to reject the idea of the museum, save it for another day when the queue would be less. We trotted off and had a coffee in a place that was strangely similar to the Gallery Cafe in its feel, though we did get served before our flight home was due.

I've taken some pictures but haven't uploaded them so I'm going to attempt to describe things to you. How I wish I'd brought the Gypsy along, she would have been so handy to write all the descriptive bits so that you'd understand and feel things properly.

The area was one of thin alley type passages, quaint and ornate awnings, balconies and railings and a selection of pattisserie shops that felt as if they should have actually been in a chapter from a Dickens book. The weather was only about nine or ten degrees but dry and pleasant enough to sit outside providing one had layers on. I was wearing my new Superdry leather jacket, I haven't told you about it yet, but it's highly cool and trendy.

At the front of the queue, which was withing earshot of our coffee spot, was a geezer playing Spanish guitar. Being Spanish I suppose he'd be called a Jeezer, it matters not. The queue was full of excited but arty people and we changed our minds and decided to join it and wallow in the atmosphere for a bit.

The queuing reminded me of when I was a kid and used to go to watch Wimbledon, standing in line from about six in the morning until midday when we'd be let in to run to the centre court standing area, which doesn't exist these days. You see, that queuing was always good fun and everyone would chat a bit and feel nice and relaxed. This was the same, albeit for only about half an hour.

We got into the museum. C was looking forward to it in that very adult and normal way, I didn't know what to expect but was eagerly anticipating the unknown. I had read that this particular museum houses many of his early and less well known works and shows more about the artist's development as a painter, of his influences and studies.

Then I saw my first Picasso. I can't recall what picture it was, but I can recall the feeling. It was as if I'd been struck by a smallish bolt of lightening, not one of those massive bolts that Thor would dispatch, a smaller one that he'd probably get a minion to throw, but enough to make me glad I'd worn rubber soled shoes. The night before we'd been at the Hard Rock Cafe and I happened to look up and see a drum kit. It was Taylor Hawkins' kit, that for me was a massive lightening bolt moment, released by Thor himself.

Seeing my first ever painting by Pablo Ruiz, as I feel I'm allowed to call him now, was awe inspiring. I gawped at it a bit open mouthed, to be looking at something that had been made by his brush strokes, canvas that had been touched by him and colours and lines that had been chosen by him felt massive. God alone knows how these things must feel for proper art fans.

We ambled our way through the museum and it felt a bit like walking along the time line of Picasso's life. I noticed that in some of his very early works he's signed his name with the double s's that wrong way around. Then later on he started to write them normally, a good thing for sure as that backward writing just looks a bit crap.

There were a few rude pictures, which I stared at intently, pretending to be serious. I got told off by a friendly Spanish guide woman for trying to take a photograph. I smiled at her, did some kind of universal sign language to indicate that I didn't realise and then went on my way.

There were paintings of Picasso's mother and sister, his father and other close friends and it was rather captivating to read about his artistic development and influences. One set of photographs has stuck in my mind. It was a bunch of three or four taken of the great man and his wife on a balcony in the US in 1957 (I can't recall exactly where). The pictures showed him looking old but happy and rather trendy and bohemian in his attire; stripey trousers and casual sandals.

On this balcony were some birds, pigeons I think, in cages and fluttering around. It was the balcony of a friend of his.

Then, on the opposite wall in the museum were some paintings he'd done of the view from the balcony. I found this quite incredible. It was as if the photographs were true life depictions, factual representations of the scene, and opposite were the great man's artistic interpretations, with all his later life artistic weirdness and unusual perspectives.

That, I think, was my highlight in an afternoon of highlights.

We perused the whole museum, bought things in the traditionally overpriced gift shop and went off to have lunch.

In the evening we went to see a spectacular flamenco and opera performance. It even had a fat bloke in a suit singing, more about that later.

Have a good Monday out there.



PseudoRandom said...

Oh you've brought back lovely memories! I went to Barca in 2005 and my mother and I spent aaaages at the Picasso museum! I loved his reinventions of Las Meninas.

Try and make a day trip to Montserrat if you have time...there's a vineyard on the way, and the mountains of Montserrat are quite lovely in the sunshine.

Chavie said...

Sounds like awesome fun mate! :D And Taylor Hawkins' drumkit!!! Niiiice! :D

Gypsy said...

Wonderful account, R. You don't need me to be there at all! But I wish I was anyway cuz Barcelona sounds so wonderful to begin with and spending time with you and C would be fantastic. I hope she had a fantastic birthday.

I remember seeing my first da Vinci at the Louvre. I cried, it was so powerful.

Keep writing!

The Benevolent Dictator said...

RD...go have some tapas at the Cerveceria Catalana off La Rambla. Amazing!

Anonymous said...

hola desde barca.
btw majority speak CATALAN in Barca, not spanish. it's the official language.