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The Summer art scene in Valencia (II)

Added on by Miguel Sopena.

As mentioned in my previous post, I spent last week in my home town of Valencia, running around in the Summer heat and trying to catch up with as many art museums and temporary exhibitions as possible (as I tend to do every time I visit). In my previous piece I focused on 'traditional' art forms, particularly painting, so here I will talk about the 'modern' stuff I saw (whatever the distinction means!).

In terms of modern and contemporary art, the obvious first stop for the art lover is Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM, Valencian Institute for Modern Art), a European-class institution which (like many of its kind in Spain) suffered badly from funding cuts in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and has not been free from the occasional scrap regarding management and curating policy. IVAM acts primarily as a venue for temporary exhibitions, and the line-up for this Summer is very substantial. Perduts en la Ciutat (Lost in the City, 18/05/2016-04/06/2017) is a huge exhibition put together from IVAM's extensive collection and which feels slightly (on purpose, I suspect) like a bit of a jumble, with cities and urban spaces as a common thread and touching on art forms as diverse as painting, printmaking (some beautiful Robert Rauschenberg prints), sculpture (Miquel Navarro's delicate constructivism, for example), photography (with great work across the decades by the likes of Bernd and Hilla Becher, Gabriel Cualladó, Horacio Coppola, Humberto Rivas, Gabriele Basilico or Thomas Struth), film, video, landscape construction (check out Hannsjörg Voth's stunning work!) and graphic novel. Fotografia Documental als Estats Units. Anys 30 (Documentary Photography in the US. The 30s, 21/04-04/09/2016) presents a small sample of the spellbinding film and photography shot at the time by the likes of Lewis Hine, Paul Strand, Walker Evans or Dorothea Lange, often under the auspices of the Farm Security Administration in order to document the consequences of the Great Depression of 1929 and explain the need for political action to the public. An incredibly informative and engaging exhibition, València Línia Clara (Valencia Clear Line, 09/06-02/10/2016) tells the story of the development of the comic book/graphic novel genre in Valencia in the 1970s and 80s, when, building on veteran post-war publications and strongly influenced by French imports, a number of first-rate local artists brought the genre to full maturity (it is worth mentioning that the graphic novel has recently achieved unreserved recognition in Spain as a major art form in its own right, with dedicated sections in bookshops and public libraries and recent masterpieces like Antonio Altarriba's and Joaquim 'Kim' Aubert's El Arte de Volar).

Miquel Navarro, Your World, Your City (2003), Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

Miquel Navarro, Your World, Your City (2003), Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

One of two rooms at IVAM usually devoted to permanent exhibits, that showing the drawings and sketchbooks of Valencian painter Ignacio Pinazo Camarlench (1849-1916) (see my previous post) was closed, probably in connection with the upcoming regionwide exhibitions commemorating the centenary of his death; The other contains the biggest existing display of works (including drawings) by modernist sculptor Julio González (1876-1942), a Picasso collaborator and a self-effacing, forward-looking artist of tremendous vision and sensitivity whose work never fails to make an impression.

Julio González, Cactus Man II (1939/40)

Julio González, Cactus Man II (1939/40)

Another very active centre for visual arts in the city is Centre Cultural La Nau, the original seat of Valencia University since its foundation in 1502. On this occasion, La Nau hosted (among others) a truly exceptional exhibition (No Ficció: Obsolescència i Permanència de la PinturaNon Fiction: Obsolescence and Permanence of Painting, 14/06-18/09/2016) of the work of painter and mixed-media artist Artur Heras (b 1945), a creator of boundless inventiveness, demonstrated here not only in his large-scale pieces dealing obliquely with their underlying emotional content but also by a display of small, sketchbook-like drawings on paper executed with astounding playfulness and creativity.

Artur Heras, from the Emotions series (Utopia) (2014)

Artur Heras, from the Emotions series (Utopia) (2014)

IVAM Centre del Carme (see again my previous post) is (or was, to be honest I'm not fully clear) IVAM's secondary site located in a former monastery in a secluded corner of the old town. With a very active exhibition programme of its own, this time its line-up included a gem I nearly missed. The former monks' dormitory houses Vanitats / Intel.lecte / Espiritualitat (Vanities / Intellect / Spirituality, 09/06-25/09/2016), a selection of paintings from roughly the 1980s onwards (including very recent work) belonging to the Ars Citerior collection (initiated by printmaker Abel Martín and his family and originally devoted to Spanish geometric abstraction and constructivism, a focus which can be gleaned by looking at the contents of the exhibition). Very loosely linked in terms of theme but very judiciously chosen, these sober, small- and medium-format paintings are a triumph of minimalist composition, thoughtfulness, taste, the joyful exploration of materials, and the less-is-more principle. As a painter these pieces (by the likes of Francisco Farreras, Gerardo Rueda, Salvador Victoria, Ana Peters or Águeda de la Pisa, to name but a few) made a deep impression on me.

Francesc Farreras, Wood Relief on Wood

Francesc Farreras, Wood Relief on Wood

Despite my best efforts, there was much more I was not able to cover and I'm sure there was a lot I didn't find out about (a target for future exploration is the City Museum, Museu de la Ciutat, which apparently houses an interesting selection of paintings and sculpture from the municipal collection but which, incredibly, I have never visited). As I mentioned in my previous post, all the institutions mentioned here are within easy walking distance of each other in Valencia's historic old town, which is well worth getting to know on foot whilst ambling from museum to museum.

I'm sure there will be a fresh crop of visual arts-related events and activities to comment on when I next visit.

 

Source: https://www.ivam.es/

The Summer art scene in Valencia (I)

Added on by Miguel Sopena.

Finding myself for a few days in my home town of Valencia last week, I took the opportunity to go round most (if not all) the city's main art museums and revisit the permanent collections as well as checking out some of the temporary exhibitions. In this post and my next one I'll try to summarise what I saw and what's on offer for the art lover over the Summer months (I apologise in advance for what I may have missed as my time in town was limited and I was busy visiting friends and family!).

Most of the city's art displays are located around the historic city centre (crammed with visitors every Summer) and within easy walking distance of each other, which is handy as the old town is definitely worth visiting on foot. It was good to see that the city and regional authorities are making a concerted effort to promote the local art scene, as information on museums and galleries (including activities and exhibitions) was readily available throughout the city and the major institutions have now a reasonably-developed online presence (all of which has not necessarily been the case in the past, a shame given that Valencia has a lot to offer for its size in terms of visual arts).

In terms of 'traditional' (as opposed to, say, 'modern') art forms, and painting in particular, the first stop for the aficionado is undoubtedly the Fine Art museum (Museu de Belles Arts de València). Past the huge history and symbolist paintings in the entrance hall is one of the gems of the institution, the beautiful collection of large altarpieces and other paintings from the 1400s onwards (coinciding with the trade-fuelled, late-medieval 'golden age' of the city and the region), executed by the likes of Joan Reixach, Gonçal Peris, Vicent Macip, Pere Nicolau, Fernando Yáñez de la Almedina, Nicolau Borràs or Joan de Joanes. The collection of Spanish and European art from later centuries includes the recent addition of a number of beautiful Piranesi etchings and a small but truly impressive room containing works by El Greco and Juan de Pareja, two small but gorgeous Velázquez paintings (including a self-portrait), and a few pieces by a personal favourite of mine, José or Giuseppe de Ribera (1591-1652), a Naples-based painter often dismissed as gory and lurid but who was a truly outstanding draughtsman and anatomist with a command of light and dark worthy of Caravaggio. The visit continues along a lively room devoted to portraitist Vicente López Portaña (1772-1850) leading up to another impressive small room with a handful of Goya paintings, including the arresting portraits of etcher Rafael Esteve and painter Francisco Bayeu. The 19th and 20th century section happened to be closed for reorganisation but I was able to visit the rooms devoted to the work of Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923), a hugely gifted draughtsman and colourist known for his free, impressionistic use of paint and who (as I found out when I started painting in England) has remained an almost-universal reference for artists working (like Sorolla himself) in comparatively traditional figuration.

Joaquín Sorolla, Seascape, Museu de Belles Arts de València

Always in terms of 'traditional' painting, an easily overlooked gem in the city's museum line-up is Casa-Museu Benlliure, the former home of painter José Benlliure Gil (1858-1937), preserved (mostly) as it was when occupied by him and his family. The painter's major works are not kept here but a number of portraits and other pieces (including beautiful sketchbook work) by him and his son José Benlliure Ortiz (1884-1916) are on display in the Casa-Museu. An unmissable part of the visit is Benlliure's perfectly preserved, massive studio (big enough to accommodate the huge-format history and mythological paintings in demand at the time), located in a separate building at the back of the property's inner courtyard and complete with North-facing window, curtains and screens to veil and direct the light, and the massive panoply of weapons, clothing and other accessories used as props in Benlliure's compositions.

José Benlliure Gil, Charon's Boat, Museu de Belles Arts de València

José Benlliure Gil, Charon's Boat, Museu de Belles Arts de València

I was just able to squeeze in two visits to temporary exhibitions focused on 'traditional' painting; The first, to IVAM Centre del Carme (see my next post for details on the institution), where the exhibition Los Objetos Hablan (Objects Speak, 24/06 to 25/09/2016) presents a selection of paintings from Museo del Prado in Madrid (including pieces by the likes of Ribera, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, Francisco de Zurbarán, Goya, Raimundo de Madrazo, Sorolla and Ignacio Pinazo) where the objects depicted tell a story as meaningful as that of, say, a portrait's central figure; and the other to Museu Valencià de la Il.lustració i de la Modernitat (MuVIM, Museum of Enlightenment and Modernity) where the exhibition Pinazo: Del Ocaso de los Grandes Maestros a la Juventud Artística. Valencia 1912-1927 (14/07 to 16/10/2016) provides a snapshot of drawing, painting and graphic design in the region at a time in the early 20th century when Sorolla's generation was being enriched by new names and new artistic trends. I was particularly keen to visit this exhibition as it is one of a number programmed to commemorate the centenary of the passing of another personal favourite, Valencian painter Ignacio Pinazo Camarlench (1849-1916), a retiring individual but a portraitist of huge expressivity; However, the exhibition provides context rather than showing any of his major works (even though the small drawing section features beautiful works on paper by him and other artists). It is worth mentioning that Pinazo's former home in the nearby town of Godella is now another Casa-Museu which may be visited by appointment (incredibly, that one is on my to-do list yet!).

Ignacio Pinazo Camarlench, Sunset on the Jetty III, Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM)

Ignacio Pinazo Camarlench, Sunset on the Jetty III, Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM)

In the second part of this post I will focus on the 'modern' stuff I saw whilst in Valencia (not that I managed to cover everything, as I said and despite my best efforts!).

 

Source: http://www.museobellasartesvalencia.gva.es...