Saturday, May 17, 2014

walking in pablo's steps

Come walk with me through Barcelona.

Well, at least, a few of the places I enjoy in Barcelona.  Including, a new one.

Just to orient you, we will start at the Christopher Columbus statue.  Actually, that sentence is just an excuse to justify including the photograph to the left.  I wanted you to see good old Chris in the light.

I had one goal yesterday -- to see the Picasso Museum.  When I was here two years ago, it was closed on the only day I was in town.

So, off I trudged.

The problem with Barcelona is there are far too many tempting paths to explore.  I could almost hear the wolf from Into the Woods singing my day's theme song:

Just so, little girl-
Any path.
So many worth exploring.
Just one would be so boring.
And look what you're ignoring...
Well, I didn't ignore much.  But I really strayed off of my path.  I will spare you most of my bunny trails.  Instead, I offer up this sampler.

I was on task until I saw this gargoyle on the Barcelona cathedral in the old section of town.  The 20th century facade is the least interesting part of the building.

What is interesting are the fanciful 15th century gargoyles.  My favorites are an elephant.  And this unicorn.  I wonder what symbolic purpose a black unicorn serves.  (Other than the obvious fact that it is soot-ridden.)

Speaking of fanciful, I have no idea what is going on here.  But it was happening in public, so, I shot away.

He was sitting in a passageway between the cathedral and the chapter house.  There were a few jarring contradictions. 

At first glance, it appeared he was simply looking at a tourist map.  But what was with the purse?  Perhaps, he was a tourist watching his wife's purse while she shambled through the cathedral photographing the relics of long-dead and (often) imaginary saints.

That would make sense if it were not for the little tin sitting in front of him.  With several coins in it.  Maybe he was supposed to be a retro version of the actors who pose as statues on Las Ramblas.

I never pass up an opportunity to visit St. Caterina market.  Not, the Boquerio market in the tourist area of town.  The one I really like is the multi-colored roof market in the gothic section.

This place would be reason enough to spend more time in Barcelona.  Time that I could use to create great meals.

Freshly-slaughtered rabbits and chickens with their heads intact.  Eggs from every imaginable source -- quail, duck, goose.  And some of the most eye-catching fruits and vegetables I have seen in a long time.

Today I am going back to buy enough fresh fruits and vegetables to make myself a nice dinner.  And any of you who have been reading Mexpatriate for very long probably think you know what I will buy.

Cherries.  Of course.  But I tasted some of the best tomatoes I have ever eaten.  I will certainly never see their like when I return to Mexico.

Nor will I find masks like these.

The topic of masks came up recently.  And I thought this would be a good addition to that conversation -- since we all wear our own personal masks, crafted in the not-often-realized belief that the world sees us as we want to be seen.

I didn't buy a mask.  But I was tempted to buy the Magritte-inspired coat hanger.  Even though I would want to keep it in my living room, instead of in a coat closet -- which I do not have because no one wears a coat on the Mexican Pacific coast.

While I was in that section of town, I wended my way through several alleys to find a treasure I discovered several years ago -- the Palace of Music.  What rococo is to baroque, the Palace of Music is to art-nouveau.

The first time I saw the place, I experienced an overwhelming awe.  It looked as if the architect had placed every ornament he knew in a bag, and then spilled them out on his plans.

But if you study the structure of the building, you can see each element has a sequence.  It has all been put together with an eye to structure.

And that brought us to the Picasso Museum.  It has been here in Barcelona since 1963.  That surprised me.  For some reason, I thought it was put together following Picasso's death.

That must be why the woman in front of me was so confused.  She asked her friend: "Why is this museum here?  He was an American."  I am relieved, by listening to her accent, to tell you she was not American.  Maybe she confused him with Jasper Johns.

Picasso was, of course, Spanish by birth.  And he spent several years as a young artist in Barcelona.

His boyhood friend and secretary,
Jaume Sabartés, started the museum with pieces from his own collection.  Picasso donated several major pieces in the 1970s, and his estate donated additional works upon his death.

I wish I could share some of those works with you.  But I discovered there is a no photography rule in the museum -- just like the Tamayo Museum.

Before I was threatened with having my camera confiscated, I managed to shoot these two paintings.

Both are from his early days as an artist.  For people who claim that Picasso painted the way he did in his mature periods because he could not draw, these paintings come as a bit of a shock.  They are well-constructed.  Well-drawn.  Well-painted.

He went on to win prizes in the academically-approved style of his day.  But after spending time in school in Madrid, he decided that the old structures had nothing to teach him.  And like Diego Rivera, he reinvented himself and his art in the series of styles he himself developed.

The museum has also assembled an interesting collection from artists who show the influence Picasso had on their works.  The curators relied on works based on Guernica and
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon -- two of his best-known works.  Each piece is evocative without being derivative.

But the museum was not the only place I found art.  While walking along the embankment, I saw this couple (probably in their 80s) enraptured in the presence of one another as they were in their surroundings.

And then there was this advertisement on the window of a pharmacy I visited.

I wonder, should this poster show up on a window in The States, how long it would take before the language lynch mob tore it down?  If you are wondering what product is being advertised, it is a self-tanning lotion.

If you want to get the full frontal experience of Barcelona, fly on over.  I will gladly see the Picasso exhibit again.  Or you can share a tomato with me while hanging your coat on my new hanger.

The cherries?  I am certain they will be long gone.

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