Saturday, 10 January 2009

Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina

6 December, around 7pm. The empty interior of the Palau de Congresos inhabited by reflections from the Av. de la Reina Maria Cristina.

At the end of the avenue, across the broad Av. de Ruis i Taulet, the Font Màgica begins its first musical performance. On certain days and times of evening, varying with the season, this fountain becomes the focal point of the series of fountains and cascades running from the Palau Nacional down to Plaça Espanya, designed by Carles Buïgas i Sans (1898-1979) and built within a year for the 1929 Universal Exhibition. The fountain's lights are set inside rotating pentagonal prisms from whose glass sides the jets of the dancing water display receive their varying hues.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Jardins la Tamarita, Sant Gervasi de Cassoles

20 November. The late afternoon sunlight reflected off a bank of windows beyond the garden walls returned from the east to cast shadows as though it were morning.

The old greenhouse, close to the shell-encrusted grotto.

The gardens comprise five acres, acquired by the cotton manufacturer Alfredo Mata early in the twentieth century, became a public park in 1994, and their design an early example of work by the landscape architect Nicolau M. Rubió i Tudurí (1891–1981).

A detailed treatment of the gardens can be found in the following article: José Miguel Morales Folguera, La recreación del viejo mito arcádico en los jardines de la Tamarita de Barcelona, in El proceso creativo : XXVI Coloquio Internacional de Historia del Arte, ed. Alberto Dallal, México : Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, 2006. (Estudios de arte y estética 59), p. 399-413

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Catedral de la Santa Creu i Eulalia (La Seu), cloister

21 November, mid afternoon, the light creating dramaticules.

The sun moving quickly, this time of day, this time of year, the cast shadows changed perceptibly their configuration upon each circumambulation of the cloister that I made.

The cloister chapels are closed with gates of forged iron dating back to the fourteenth century.

Robert Hughes becomes particularly rhapsodic over the cathedral cloister (Barcelona, 1992, chapter 3, V) and describes its role in the feast day of Corpus Christi. On the northern side of the cloister is the cathedral museum. Fine examples of High Gothic Catalan painting are to be seen here and in the altarpieces of the cathedral itself.

(Bartolomé Bermejo (1436-1498), Pietà of Canon Luis Desplá, 1490.)

The resident geese of the cloister were not cooperative with regard to being counted - I readily put my faith in there being thirteen, one for each year of the life of the martyred Santa Eulalia.
There are also an uncountable number of goldfish and coins in the pools of water in the cloister garden; the goldfish eerily still —perhaps world-weary— reflecting mutely upon the tarnishing colours of the coins resting at an indeterminate depth below.

El Poble Sec

(From the steps of Passatge de Martras.)

(Along Passatge Antic de València, between C. de Margarit and C. Blasco de Garay.)

(Garage wall, and door of facing house, C. Blasco de Garay.)

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Carrer Blasco de Garay, Poble Sec

15 November, walking up C. de Blasco de Garay on the way to Fundació Joan Miró to see the exhibition American Modern (1 Nov 2008 - 25 Jan 2009, works from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington). There was a section on photography, which, aside from documentary interest, contained many that drew attention formally. Walker Evans (Roadside Gas Sign 1929 and Farm Interior, New York State 1931), Ralph Steiner (Untitled, 1924 [Vanderbilt Garage] and Untitled (Talking picture) 1929), Berenice Abbott (Poultry Shop, East 7th St, NY, 1935 and Construction, Old and New from Washington Street, NY, 1936), André Kertész (Now the U.N. Plaza 1938 with its sculptural forms, lines, shadows and planes, the echoes and repetitions of New York. Fire Escape 1949, and the well known New York. Washington Square 1954 alongside its negative tonally, a night-time shot of a pale tree illuminated by streetlights against a background of lighted rectangles of apartment windows -- this latter is not reproduced as an image in the listing of works but is (I think) New York. Washington Square 1958), and Roy DeCarava (Windows over a garden, 1978).
At the end of the exhibition on a wall to the side was the large ilfochrome by Vik Muniz, Alfred Stieglitz (from the series Pictures of Ink), 2000, with its magnified view of globules of ink composing themselves on the macroscale into the Stieglitz self-portrait of 1907, the perception of which is modified by the unnerving instability of the liquid seen on the microscale. After pausing to follow awhile the every-varying course of Alexander Calder's Mercury Fountain* I proceeded to get lost in the permanent Miró collection.

* In 1937, Spain’s Republican government invited both Miró and Calder to create new works for the Spanish Pavilion at the World Fair in Paris. Mercury Fountain was made as a memorial for the siege of Almadén, and donated to the Joan Miró Foundation by Calder.

Parc de la Barceloneta

As well as these tar traces on the walkway to Carrer del Doctor Aiguader,

there was also more intentional drawing on the temporary fence boards.

A few weeks later I was to learn from Allan Sekula's text to his photographs New and Old Natural Gas Stations in the section "2007, Metropolitan Images of the New Barcelona" of the MACBA exhibition Universal Archive (23 Oct 2008 - 6 Jan 2009, on which I hope to write something later), that the distinctive graffiti in this park is of a Salvadoran gang, the Mara Salvatruchas, who originated from his neighbourhood in Los Angeles.

Adjacent to this park was a construction site, cut through by the Carrer del Gas.

The setting sun was warm on the facades visible above the fencing.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Carrer del Milanesat, Sant Gervasi de Cassoles

On an overcast day in December, soon after passing the parabolic (or catenary?) arches* of the Collegi de les Teresianes (Gaudí 1888-89), and peculiarly close to my encounter with the leaf on C. del Doctor Roux.
* See for example Santiago Huerta's article in Architectural Science Review (2006).

Carrer del Doctor Roux, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi

7 December, 10.30am.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Carrer dels Banys Vells

Walls whose surfaces seem to exhale the ghosts of images affixed in the past - graffiti, posters, marks and scrapes. These walls enclose a narrow street (leading on to?) C. de Banys Vells, from whose dank murkiness is framed a view of the north-facing doors of Santa Maria del Mar.

C. de Molist, C. d'Antequera

Many walls feature in the photographs I took while in Barcelona, bearing the traces of things past, written on, reworked, diagrammatic, weathered, ageing. Here are some from the day early in October when I was lost between Parc Güell and Parc Guinardó.

In due course I hope to post some taken later that will illustrate the following vague notion.

I have only a slight acquaintance with the work of Antoni Tàpies - still a slight one since the Fundació Antoni Tàpies* was closed for renovations for the duration of my visit, "due to be completed in the spring of 2008 . . . currently difficult to specify a completion date." Here is a painting in the collection of MOMA, New York.

Tàpies' exploration of materials, textures, colour, marks, signs, become "found objects" in and around Barcelona -- once framed. Some of the paintings and mixed media works of Tàpies might be considered not as reproductions or reconstructions of that which is remembered, but as constructions of independent realities exhibiting the principles underlying the chance configurations one finds in the city. (Often these configurations are found at construction sites!)
photographs included here are from my first day taking pictures and formed just the beginning of the process whereby material textures and colours that I saw around Barcelona converged in time with the memory of (reproductions of) Tàpies works.

* The Fundació, in the Eixample, was formerly Montaner i Simon publishing house, built 1880-1885 by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, restored and refurbished by Roser Amadó and Lluís Domènech Girbau, and is surmounted by Tàpies' Núvol i cadira.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Carrer de Tenerife, Barri del Carme

10 October, a summery evening, walking from Jardins de Joan Ponce, after missing the entrance to Parc Güell, and ascending the hill towards Parc del Guinardó. Cats lying here and there on the tarmac, eyes half-closed in the residual heat of the day and the shadows lengthening. Eager dogs walking their owners. The end of the day at the end of the week.