As I come to apply for jobs and consider why I want to work in the Arts sector, it is my memories of that first trip to the Prado which I return to. For a long time afterwards I believed that all of art history was contained within the walls of that museum; Rubens, El Greco, Heronimus Bosch, Goya and Picasso, this was the art of the world, not just of Spain. I had so much passion for the voluptuous forms of Ruben's goddesses, the elongated silhouettes of El Greco, the chaotic detail of Bosch's Heaven and Hell triptych, the tortured nightmares of Black Goya and the unrealised possibilities of Picasso. As a ten year old in a foreign country I took my Grandma and my aunt on a tour of the unexplored gallery and gained an occasional audience in the process.
Jamon, that gorgeous Spanish treat! And some of Madrid's graffiti that decorates the streets. I think this inspired an obsession with graffiti for a long time, if you could see my art and photography sketchbooks from school you would understand!
At 16 I was lucky enough to see Picasso's Guernica on its return to Spain. Its exhibition amongst sketches and preparatory paintings proved Guernica to be a powerful work as it encompassed all in its gravitational field. This exhibition in the Reina Sofia was accompanied by an exhibition at the Prado which showed Picasso playing with the very traditions and artworks that I had learnt about at ten. I came home with a heavy exhibition catalogue and a love for Picasso. On this trip I also saw the Movida exhibition about Spanish underground art culture in the 80's which has fuelled a fascination with the film maker Almodovar that you can read about here; http://wandering-the-dream-space.blogspot.com/2010/11/pedro-almodovar-yo-queiro-ser-una-chica.html.
This summer I returned to Spain for my Aunt's wedding and decided to extend my stay so that I could have some time in the city which seems to have become so familiar. I returned to the Reina Sofia and took my mother to see it for the first time. It was here that I saw the Valparaiso exhibition (http://wandering-the-dream-space.blogspot.com/2010/11/valparaiso-hopes-of-getting-to-chile.html) which initially inspired ideas about my dissertation. I was also drawn to the Caixa forum, pictured above, by the upside down elephant balancing on its trunk and the vertical walled garden. The Caixa is an amazing art space and its exhibition of Miquel Barcelo was another revelation about Spanish art. Barcelo has a wonderful feel for texture and the physical qualities of paint. He could manipulate paint in to pumpkin pulp, sand drifts, vegetable matter and the greasy relics of a Spanish feast. In contrast his watercolours exploit the medium's delicate qualities, suggesting shapes like shadows or moving water. Take a look here: http://www.miquelbarcelo.org/
I am sorry that this post has flitted between so many things, but I want to explain how much the city of Madrid has inspired me and my interests. This post is for my Grandma and my Aunt, because it's true, without that first trip to Madrid I'm not sure where my passion for art would have come from.