July 10th, 2012
More and more i come across artistic exhibitions that celebrate the beauty of Spain in general and, in my neck of the woods, Andalusia in particular.
Now the splendid Palacio Carlos V building in the grounds of the Alhambra Palace has another must see exhibition. One that displays paintings of the grand palaces and the gardens in Andalusia, including those by one of Spain’s finest painters, Joaquin Sorolla.
The Valencian born artist was putting his impressions of Spain down on canvas in both the 19th and the early part of the 20th century. The exhibition on show in the great city of Granada is of his later oil paintings. When he had become a fan of the country. It wasn’t always that way.
Sorolla took time to be converted to the culture of Andalusia.
The curator of this exhibition is Tomás Llorens. He says: “When he first went to Seville in 1908 he had a terrible time. He hated the bullfights, and the flamenco made him dizzy. He wrote to his wife that he was going to go to bed early because he couldn’t stand the Andalusians.”
But that soon changed. Sorolla grew to love Andalusia. He discovered the truly amazing Alcázar in the stand out city of Seville and, a year later, the Alhambra Palace and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Like so many artists who have arrived since, he was captivated by what he saw and he had to put his impressions down on canvas.
It is appropriate that the often overlooked Carlos V Palace at the Alhambra is the venue for this exhibition. For it was the Alhambra Palace that changed his life and work. He began to paint patios, marble, ceramics, ponds and columns. Then, as with many a poet, writer and artist before and since, he began to be captured by the Generalife gardens and the interior of the Nasrid Palace.
This exhibition is called Jardines de Luz (Gardens of Light) and celebrates in particular the outdoor spaces he saw when in Granada and Seville. Two similar, and yet very different characterful cities in Andalusia.
Sorolla’s final painting in the year of 1910 was of the Fuente y patio de Alcázar de Sevilla (fountain and patio of the Alcázar in Seville)
Sorolla has a museum named after him in Madrid, he settled down to live in the city in 1890. The exhibition of around 50 pieces of work moves back to the ever eclectic Madrid when it ends in Granada on October 14th.
But you can see the amazing palaces and gardens of Andalusia any time of the year. I have done my own bit, with my well travelled camera, to try and capture their beauty.
I recall the first time i sat under the stars seeing a fabulous show at the Carlos V Palace as part of the annual International festival of music and dance. A wonderful setting. But this distinctive building and circular auditorium is often bypassed by those visiting the Nasrid Palace of the Alhambra. And some people never even go to see the gardens painted by Sorolla and others.
It is a bit like the situation in the gorgeous city of Córdoba where everyone heads for La Mezquita but, in doing so, often bypass the neighbouring Patio de los Naranjos. Or the the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. Or, across the city centre of Córdoba, the marvellous Viana Palace and its many patio gardens.
In all weathers there is something magical about the gardens of the palaces of Granada, Córdoba and Seville. Even if you are unlucky enough to be there in rain, there is still a photo to be taken or an oil painting to be committed to canvas – though best not try that unless under cover. I have seen people doing that. There are some very artistic people living and working in Andalusia. And talented people who are not put off by a shower or a storm. They must capture the moment.
I cannot paint. Not even these magnificent views. But, were i to have half the talent of Joaquín Sorolla, i doubt i would ever leave the grounds of the gardens and palaces of Seville, Córdoba and Granada.
Whether you use oils or a stills camera, they make for a pretty picture.