Saturday, July 25, 2015

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida


"I hate darkness. Claude Monet once said that painting in general did not have light enough in it.  I agree with him. We painters, however, can never reproduce sunlight as it really is. I can only approach the truth of it. " Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida

Mother, 1895

Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923) was a prolific Spanish painter from Valencia. He has been dubbed "the painter of light". His works include portraits, landscapes, historical and monumental themes. He left behind some 2000 paintings and there is a good representation of his oeuvres at his former home which is now the Museo Sorolla.

In the painting, Mother, Sorolla portrays his newly born daughter, Elena, with his wife who looks lovingly at her daughter. It's difficult to use white paint without overwhelming the subject. But Sorolla meticulously works with gradations of white. The white wall is a different shade from the white pillowcases and the white bedcover. He works with the curves of the bodies under the cover and the folds of the bedcover to veer away from a monochromatic tone. 

La llegada de las barcas, Jávea, 1905

La llegada de las barcas (the arrival of the boats) is one of my favorite paintings in the collection. I love how the sails are billowing in the wind and seem to engulf the painting. Sorolla was exposed to the works of the impressionists during his studies in Paris. This painting reflects the influence of impressionism on his work with the barely discernible figures, his brushstroke rendering of the sea and the application of a nautical theme. 

Frieze of flowers, fruits and laurel on the mantel

The mantel and upper walls of the dining room are decorated with a frieze of garlands of fruits and laurel accentuated with portraits of Sorolla's wife and daughters.

Artist's studio
Painting in background: Strolling along the Seashore, 1909

Not surprisingly, Sorolla's studio is well appointed. Some of his extensive collection of ceramics are displayed here along with his impressive desk, a bed, sculptures and religious statues, his paint brushes and watercolor paintings. Sorolla painted many scenes of the Alhambra and its gardens in Granada and they are hung in this room.

Sorolla's works were a "commercial" success during his lifetime. He had a market for his paintings both in Europe and the United States. He was invited by the Hispanic Society of America to exhibit his works in the U.S. in 1909. He returned in 1911 for an exhibition of his paintings at the Chicago Art Institute. He was also in demand as a portraitist and among his subjects was Howard Taft, the President of the United States whom he painted in 1909. Sorolla also received numerous awards for his works including the Grand Prix and the Medal of Honor at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1900 and the medal of honor at the National Exhibition in Madrid in 1901. 

Garden

There's a little bit of the Alhambra in Sorolla's garden. I enjoyed listening to the music of the fountains and rested awhile and away from the noise and heat of the city. The sweet scent of oranges from a heavily laden tree in front of the house permeated the air. This was such a lovely place to re-energize and remind myself that traveling isn't all about keeping up with the "things to see and do" list but more importantly, to bask in serendipitous moments like this.

Museo Sorolla
General Martinez Campos, 37
Madrid
Metro: Iglesa line 1, Ruben Dario line 5, Gregorio Marañón line 7 or 10
Entrance fee: 3€ (check for discounts for senior citizens or students and Saturday afternoons
museosorolla.mcu.es 

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie 


Monday, July 20, 2015

The Streets of Madrid


 "Love of God Street"  

What a blessed name for a street! We should all be so fortunate to live on a street with a name like this.

Calle de la Sal

Someone thought to enliven this building.  Nice comic balcony scenes. 

Calle Cervantes

Both Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega lived on this street. And the Lope de Vega house is open to visitors. You have to reserve to join a tour of his house but the small garden is open to all.

Tea Shop in Huertas neihborhood

Where there's tea, there's hope.

Street sweeper, Plaza Jacinto Benavente 

"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or as Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well'." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Calle de las Hileras

Details distinguish the extraordinary from the mundane.

Calle de las Huertas (Barrio de las Letras)

Ah, isn't it true my angel of love?
That on this secluded shore
The moon shines clear and pure
And one breathes better?  José Zorilla from the play, Don Juan Tenorio (1844)

The streets of Madrid are full of surprises. Look up and you'll see murals, wrought iron balconies, well thought out street names inscribed on tile, sculptures and statues. Look down and you'll read passages from a poem or a novel by famous Spanish writers. There's so much going on at eye level that it's easy to be distracted. But a slow walk through these streets will make you a Madrid tour guide in no time, (if only to your close relatives and friends). Disfrute!

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie



Monday, July 13, 2015

Reina Sofia Museum


Madrid has some of the best museums in the world. The Reina Sofia Museo Nacional de Arte is definitely one of these. Under its roof is arguably one of the most intriguing paintings of all time, the Guernica by Pablo Picasso.  The canvas measures 11.45 ft. by 25 ft. It is larger than liife. And it tells a gripping story of a small town in the Basque region which was bombed by German Luftwaffe aircraft in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.  It is forbidden to photograph this painting so here's the link to view it: http://www.museoreinasofia.es/en/collection/artwork/guernica.

Girl at the Window, Salvador Dali, 1925

This is an early oil painting by Dali of his sister. I too am drawn by the view from the window when I stand in front of this painting.  What must this girl be thinking? Is she longing to go out to the beach? Dali is a master at engaging his audience. His paintings often challenge our visual perception of his art. 

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters - Francisco Goya, 1799

This is #43 of a series of etchings called, Los Caprichos. Goya has this to say about this particular aquatint: "Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters; united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the source of their wonders." Art, therefore, is the product of reason and imagination.

Lunar Bird, Joan Miró, 1966

This bronze sculpture by Miró is in the garden of the Reina Sofia. The moon represents the female while the sun, the male. Miró is best known for his imaginative and colorful canvasses. There are a few of his paintings in the museum as well.  To see more sculptures by Miró in one place, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has an exhibition of his sculptures through October 2015.  

The Reina Sofia has thousands of artworks from the end of the 19th century to the present day in its collection.  Paintings by George Braque, Juan Gris, Jean Dubuffet, René Magritte, Robert Delauney, and a host of contemporary artists are currently on display at the museum. With such a large collection, only a thousand artworks are on view. Read more about the collection here:  http://www.museoreinasofia.es/en/press/the-collection/collection-1-irruption-20th-century-utopias-and-conflicts-1900-1945.

Looking up at the glass elevator of the Reina Sofia

The nice thing about going to a museum in Madrid is that there are designated times during the day or week when the entrance fee is waived. On Sundays, the museum is free from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.  Mondays through Saturdays from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.  Museum is closed on Tuesdays.  Check the museum website to verify hours and entrance fees: www.museoreinasofia.es/en.

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie



Sunday, July 12, 2015

Buying Pasteles from Cloistered Nuns

Enter through this door

Years ago I had been to one of the convents in Madrid hoping to buy their pastries but alas, they were closed. It wasn't until recently that I finally had the chance to try one of their delectable cookies.

The Monastery of Corpus Christi is on Calle del Codo which is off the popular Plaza del Conde de Miranda.  Buzz the nuns at the door to let you in.  The second buzzer is for the monks which you can ring if you wish to go to confession. Once you're inside you pass a courtyard to a short corridor before you enter an open door where you can ask the nun in attendance what you'd like from the list posted on the wall. It is possible they may only have one pastry available (as on the day I went). If they have different items available, they will put the boxes of pastries or cookies on the lazy susan and you can put your money on top of the box you wish to purchase. Your change and box of sweets will come around shortly. 

Put your money on top of the pastry box you wish to buy

You will not see anyone.  You will only hear the voice of the nun in attendance. These cloistered nuns make a living by selling these pasteles. It's nice to help them by buying their cookies and going off the grid to find them. The price of each box of pastry is indicated alongside the items they sell.  The box of nevaditos that I bought cost €9.


On the list of items the nuns sell are naranjines (orange flavored cookies) almond cookies, yema (custard candy with egg yolk) nevaditos, galletas (biscuits), pastas de té (cookies). Some of these are available by the kilo as well. 

Nevaditos 

There were at least 16 pieces of nevaditos (snow capped mountains) in the box. I may have eaten a couple before I started counting. They were so good. It goes well with a cup of tea. The ingredients are: flour, sugar, white wine and lard. The cookies aren't that sweet despite the powdered sugar icing. Here's the recipe for nevaditos: 
http://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/nevaditos-345.html

When to buy the pastries:
Morning from 9 a.m. To 1 p.m. 
Afternoon from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm
Since the days of the week are not indicated, this might mean they are open daily (though many businesses are closed on Sundays in Madrid). 

*****

Images by Charie




Saturday, June 06, 2015

June

The Days are Clear
Christina Georgina Rossetti 

The days are clear, 
Day after day, 
When April's here, 
That leads to May, 
And June 
Must follow soon: 
Stay, June, stay! 
If only we could stop the moon 
And June! 

Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894) was a British poet and lyricist. 


*****

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Greenhills Shopping Center Revisited


Religious articles

It's been years since my last shopping trip to Greenhills Shopping Center. We were looking for some giveaways for a big meeting and Greenhills has an incalculable array of gift ideas. We started in the jewelry section and found a fresh pearl bracelet with an attractive and colorful accent stone for P95.00. We were able to bargain with the vendor since we were buying 50 pieces. She marked down the price to P70.00 for each bracelet.

Souvenirs

Greenhills is divided into sections - handbags and accessories, clothing (separate sections for men and women), jewelry, home decor, souvenirs, Filipiniana arts and crafts, shoes and knick knacks. It's especially fun to shop here in November for Christmas decorations and gifts though the crowd might be unabearable. 

Knock-offs

Many shoppers come to Greenhills to buy knock-offs. And there are gobs to choose from. Be careful though if you are bringing this to another country because Customs at your destination may fine you and confiscate your bag. Alternatively, there are bags and wallets that are not a replica of a known brand and may be just right for your needs.

Blouses

I bought a couple of blouses made of light material with quarter sleeves. One of the blouses I bought is of chiffon fabric and easy to wash and dry.  Both were perfect for a super hot summer season and the price was reasonable at P350.00 each. I couldn't bargain this down because I was only buying one blouse each from two different vendors and the discount is given when you're buying 3 blouses. Three blouses are offered for P1,000.00. (The exchange rate at the time of purchase was P44.35 to the US$.)  There were also cheaper blouses which were for sale at 3 for P400.00.
  
Distressed jeans

The most trendy outfit today is the distressed jeans and these are available at Greenhills. You might find the perfect fit here.

Statement tees

Sometimes these t-shirts hit the mark!

There are electronic gadget shops on the upper floor and many restaurants to choose from across the street from the main shopping area.  Covered walkways connect the complex so you don't have to walk under the sun which can really wipe you out.

Greenhills Shopping Center is on Ortigas Avenue, Norwestern Street, San Juan.  

*****

Images by Charie


Monday, May 25, 2015

The Lopez Museum & Library

España y Filipinas, Juan Luna
Oil in canvas, 1886

The Philippines has a rich artistic heritage. Following the lead of Juan Novicio Luna who earned a gold medal for his painting, Spolarium, at the Exposición General de Bellas Artes in Madrid in 1884, many Filipino artists have gained international recognition and left an indelible mark in the art world. 

In this painting, España y Filipinas, two women representing Spain and the Philippines are seen with their back to the viewer. Spain or the motherland has her arm around the Philippines and she is pointing to a bright horizon. Notice the elaborate red dress of Spain compared to the simple dress of the Filipina. Class distinction is obvious here. The Philippines was under Spanish rule for 400 years and that bright spot on the horizon is supposed to signify progress with Spain leading the way.  It might as well be the prospect of independence.  (A few years after this painting was.created, the Philippines declared its independence from Spain in 1898.) But in fact, the painting is a subtle message to Spain to foster reforms, grant equality, and steer the Philippines towards economic prosperity.

Woman with Sword, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo
Study for Per Pacem et Libertatem, Oil on canvas

Felix R. Hidalgo was a contemporary of Juan Luna. Hidalgo was awarded a silver medal for his painting, Las Virgenes Christiana's Expuesta al Populacho at the same exposition where Luna exhibited in 1884. In subsequent years, Hidalgo won a string of awards and recognitions including a gold medal at the Exposición de las Islas Filipinas for La Barca de Aqueronte (The Boat of Charon) which also earned a silver medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris and a diploma of honor at the Exposición de Bellas Artes in Barcelona. He received a gold medal for his participation at the Universal Exposition in St. Louis in 1904 and his work, El Violinista (The Violinist) was awarded a gold medal.

Native Fruits, Fernando Amorsolo
Oil on canvas, 1950

Fernando Amorsolo is a well loved Filipino artist best known for his rural landscapes and portrayal of the dalagang Filipina, the Filipino woman.  Amorsolo grew up in the countryside and though his family moved to Manila after the demise of his father, he often traveled outside the city to paint the local scenery. With the exception of his works from the war years, Amorsolo's paintings are full of life, light and convey everyday scenes. It speaks volumes of happy times.

A section from "Search", Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab)
Acrylic on paper, 1985

Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab) is recognized as one of the leading artists of contemporary art in the Philippines. He was bestowed the National Artist for Visual Arts award in 2006. This year he celebrates his 50th year as an artist and the Lopez Museum is the first to host an exhibition of his life and art from the 1960's and thereafter. The exhibition, Frames of Reference, runs through July 4th. It includes BenCab's Soldiers, a charcoal, chalk and acrylic painting on hand made paper from the Museum collection together with a selection of art books, postcards, drawings, etchings, studies and mementos. It is a body of work that reveals BenCab's virtuosity and grasp of different types of media.  I was particularly attracted to his rendition of a Japanese woman from his ukiyo-e collection but my photo didn't turn out well. I'll share it here anyway.

Japanese Woman by BenCab

I found Galicano's painting displayed in the Propaganda Exhibition gallery. It caught my eye because it reminded me of European paintings from the Romantic period. It is traditional in style, employs light and shade (which has the effect of dividing the painting in two sections), and uses rich color brushstrokes to highlight the characters. Galicano uses drapery to add drama to the scene. The man in the foreground (wearing a salakot), is partially wrapped in the folds of green drapery, leaving his muscular back open as the drapery forms into a wave that enfolds a figure in the background who is supposed to represent Conscience.

Study for Allegory of a Farce, Romulo Galicano
Oil on canvas

The brochure explains propaganda in the following context: "Propaganda fleshes out the idea of myth-making and its ability to inspire change in society and conversely, the formation of fantasy or outright fallacy packaged as a promise that never gets fulfilled". This study is for the painting Siete de Agosto which alludes to a protest on August 7, 2009 by the art community against the lack of integrity of the selection process for National Artist of the Philippines. In the background is a person holding a sign which is a smudge in this study but quite clear in the original canvas. The sign says, Parody of the Arts. Allegory of a Farce is full of symbolism and leaves the viewer intrigued and begging for more.

Galicano blends the traditional style of painting with a contemporary theme. I learned that the vertical lines running down the center of the painting is a trademark of Galicano. It represents the "reconciliation of opposite poles and the merging of the subjective and the objective creating a new meaningful work of art".

The Propaganda Exhibition - Truth, Lies and Subtleties has been extended through July 4, 2015.

The Lopez Museum has a treasure trove of over 500 artworks and counting. Only a few are displayed at any time. The Library specializes in Philippine material and has a collection of 20,000 titles. The Museum is moving to a new location in the near future. Till then their address remains at BenPres Building on Exchange Road in Pasig. For more information about their hours and current exhibitions, check out their website: lopez-museum.com. 

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie