Tag: Madrid

Paintings painted

Sunday, 28 April, 2019

The Spanish artist Julio Anaya Cabanding paints paintings. Using graffitied walls as his canvas, he recreates famous paintings with astonishing detail, including their ornate frames. His logic? By taking a photo of an Old Master in a museum such as the Prado in Madrid, he “liberates” the image from “the sacrum of the institution” and he then puts it in a place where it has never been seen or will be seen in a very different way.

Painted Vermeer


Catalonia, 1 October

Monday, 1 October, 2018

Even if the referendum on Catalan independence was ruled illegal and therefore non-binding, 2.3 million people out of 5.5 million eligible voters cast their ballots on this day last year, despite intimidation and violence. When the counting was done, 90 percent had voted to break from Spain. The regional government in Barcelona promised to declare independence within 48 hours of the vote if the “Yes” side won, but when it finally did issue the declaration on 27 October, tellingly, no country recognized Catalonia, and Madrid promptly sacked the entire Catalan administration, causing several key figures to flee abroad, including deposed president, Carles Puigdemont. Others were jailed, accused of rebellion.

Today, separatist groups will mobilize hundreds of thousands of supporters to protest in Barcelona to mark the anniversary of the referendum and to ask that “the wishes of the majority of Catalan people be put into effect.” The reality, however, is that disagreements over independence have deepened since the plebiscite and arguments about implementing “the wishes of the majority of Catalan people” have led to accusations of betrayal. As well, the separatist movement is now divided into three parties and there are also divisions between its leaders who are outside Spain, those who are in prison and those who remain at liberty. Meanwhile, the relationship between Barcelona and Madrid is as fractious as ever, and Catalonia, with all its beauty and wealth, is damaged and disunited, tragically.

“Beware of my partisanship, my mistakes of fact, and the distortion inevitably caused by my having seen only one corner of events.” — George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia

Homage to Catalonia


Master and Commander Boccherini: 5

Friday, 15 December, 2017 0 Comments

And so we come to the end of our week of interpretations of Boccherini’s Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid, which became famous through its use in the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World starring Russel Crowe and Paul Bettany. So far, we’ve had the original from the film, a family performance, a violin/viola duet and an orchestral version.

Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid was written around 1780 by Luigi Boccherini and he scored it for two violins, a viola and two cellos. It’s exuberant music and depicts the night life of Madrid near an 18th-century military outpost. Drums can be heard and various nocturnal sounds, including cats calling and church bells ringing, are woven into the piece. Boccherini was quoted as having said: “The piece is absolutely useless, even ridiculous, outside Spain, because the audience cannot hope to understand its significance, nor the performers to play it as it should be played.” Given that, it’s only appropriate we end with the Master and Commander segment being played by el dúo Bagatela, featuring Javier Abraldes on guitar and Plamen Velev on cello. ¡Olé!

“The newly-minted captain admits the irony between the gold on his shoulders and the lack of gold in his pockets. The newly-minted captain is told to let nothing stop him but to do nothing that would risk his ship or his crew.” — Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander


Master and Commander Boccherini: 4

Thursday, 14 December, 2017 0 Comments

Jaesik Lim studied music at Hanyang University, one of the leading private research institutions in South Korea, and then moved to Madrid to continue his studies, saying: “I didn’t want to fly to Italy like everyone else does. I wanted something different.” Furthermore: “Both Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras are from Spain, so I thought this country must be special,” he told the Korea JoongAng Daily. There was a phase of culture shock, however, when he discovered that most Spaniards spoke Spanish instead of English. Still, he didn’t shirk the challenge of survival so he set up a stall at a flea market “for earrings and women’s underwear.”

Perseverance pays. Here, the maestro conducts the Master and Commander segment of Boccherini’s Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid performed by the Orquesta de Cámara y Grupo Vocal Millennium in Madrid’s Teatro Monumental.

“‘Are you very much attached to money?’ asked Stephen. ‘I love it passionately,’ said Jack, with truth ringing clear in his voice. ‘I have always been poor, and I long to be rich.'” — Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander

Tomorrow, we end our series on the Master and Commander Boccherini with an interpretation by el dúo Bagatela from Galicia.


Catalonia: Here the Russians, there Assange

Saturday, 30 September, 2017 0 Comments

One of the scariest things during the Catalan referendum campaign has been the instrumentalization by the government in Madrid of El País, Spain’s most widely-circulated daily and considered to be country’s paper of record. During the past week, El País has gone to great lengths to find “reds under the beds” in Barcelona and its articles on alleged Russian involvement in the referendum have been so transparently planted that one has to laugh out loud at their amateurishness. Catalan separatism is not indebted to Moscow in any way and its integrity is as far from Putinism as Montserrat is from Vladivostok. The crux of the matter is cultural:

“Many Catalans do not ‘feel’ Spanish. They have spent the years since the death of Franco recreating their country, taking what power they can and using it to consolidate the idea of Catalonia as a place as worthy to be a state as any other European country.” Colm Tóibín, The Guardian

Still, those who long for tales of Russian manipulation of campaigns will take a crumb of comfort from the intervention of Julian Assange in the referendum. From his self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange tweeted:

“What is happening in Catalonia in the most significant Western conflict between people and state since the fall of the Berlin wall — but its methods are 2017, from VPNs, proxies, mirrors and encrypted chat to internet surveillance and censorship, bot propaganda and body armor.”

Like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange is a Russian tool and a nasty piece of work but his ability to influence events abroad or do harm at home is limited. Both are Twitter bores now and, as Ned Price, points out. “The only thing more insufferable than @JulianAssange is @JulianAssange with 280 characters.”

Robots voting


“Spain Should Remain United”

Thursday, 28 September, 2017 0 Comments

“”Spain Is A Great Country And Should Remain United.” With those words, spoken at the White House, in the presence of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, President Donald Trump guaranteed that he would be unloved by Catalan separatists. Already hated by the media, feminists and North Koreans, Mr Trump didn’t really need to bring down the wrath of Catalonia on his head, but he went there, nonetheless. From now on, Donald Trump will be depicted as the devil at the annual Santa Tecla fireworks displays. But he can live with that, one suspects.

Meanwhile, Madrid is increasing its pressure on Barcelona to cancel Sunday’s “illegal” referendum on independence.

Catalan unhero


Madrid vs. Barcelona

Tuesday, 26 September, 2017 0 Comments

Spain is in crisis and the government in Madrid has two options: bad and very bad. If it overreacts to the Catalan demands for independence, a dramatic backlash in Barcelona is inevitable, but if it ignores the rebellion in the north, constitutional order in Spain will be put at risk. Last week’s arrests of Catalan administration officials on charges of abetting unlawful acts in pursuit of the 1 October referendum have further inflamed the separatists, who control the streets and the means of cultural production. So, the situation is likely to deteriorate, solidifying the victim role that the Catalans are playing to the full. Neither side intends to retreat and the potential for tragedy is real.

Catalonia


“Et tu, Brute?”

Saturday, 7 May, 2016 0 Comments

This year, the world marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and the commemorations reflect a language that has become the global lingua franca for a creative economy that knows few geographic boundaries. Pedro Martín-Calero is an example of this globalization. He started his career as a cinematographer in Spain, but switched to directing and he now divides his time between Madrid and London, where he works with Colonel Blimp, a production company that makes a variety of media, including commercials, music videos and Shakespearian snippets.

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!” is one of the many memorable sayings from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Pedro Martín-Calero includes a pair of fearsome canines in his very modern interpretation of Julius Caesar, Act II Scene I.


La recuperación del Calvario

Friday, 3 April, 2015 0 Comments

Sometime between 1455 and 1464, probably in Brussels, the obscure Netherlandish artist Rogier van der Weyden painted a notable crucifixion scene on fourteen planks of Baltic oak. It is housed now in the royal monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial, northwest of Madrid and, recently restored, it is on exhibit in the Museo del Prado until 28 June.

Good Friday

“Christmas and Easter can be subjects for poetry, but Good Friday, like Auschwitz, cannot. The reality is so horrible it is not surprising that people should have found it a stumbling block to faith.” – W.H. Auden


The drums of Catalonia

Sunday, 9 November, 2014 1 Comment

The Catalans are having a moment today. They’re holding a referendum of sorts on the notion of independence from Spain. But because central government in Madrid forbids the use of the “referendum” word in this case, Barcelona is forced to speak of “a non-binding, participatory process” instead. When Scotland held an independence referendum in September, EU leaders hailed it as an exercise in popular democracy, but they’re hostile to the right of Catalonia to make a similar decision. Why? “Apparently they have forgotten that the right of self-determination of nations is a long-standing, fundamental and universal principle of modern democracy.” So says Latvian writer Otto Ozols in an article for Delfi. Meanwhile, Sydney has voted on “el 9N.”

Catalonian drummers


Short story: The first of the day

Friday, 28 June, 2013 0 Comments

“Morning, Bill.”
“The usual, Sir?”
“That’s right. And lots of Hendricks.”

Is there a word in English, or any other language for that matter, that describes the sensation of anticipation felt on the top lip deemed to be the recipient of gin, tonic and lime.

“Here you are, Sir,” said Bill.

The silver liquid flows, courses, sluices through his system.
Outside, it’s a hot pulsing city morning, but inside, he is all cool silver and steel.
Whether in Mumbai, Mombasa, Madrid, Munich or while watching the masses stroll around St. Mark’s, it always tasted just right.

“Thanks, Bill.”
And he left a note on the counter before heading out.

“See you at lunch time, Sir,” said Bill

G&T