Tag Archives: Art

An Afternoon Of Pop Art And Vietnamese Nosh

Q: What do two freelancers do on a Tuesday afternoon? A: What they bloody well like!

So, off to Madrid we went, Maria and I, to peruse  the Mitos Del Pop exhibition laid on by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. (Whoever decided on this tongue twister of a name???)

Madrid Metro - Puerta Del Sol

Madrid Metro – Puerta Del Sol. A bit ‘Pop Art’, don’t you reckon?!

Entrance to the exhibition, with Maria at the end

Entrance to the exhibition, with Maria waiting for me to get a move on.

Soup cans. Photo taken in the Museum shop, not the exhibition itself. I was told off :(

There can be no Pop Art without Soup cans! Photo taken in the Museum shop, not the exhibition itself. And the staff told me off 😦

Let’s move onto the food. We opted for Vietnamese 🙂

Spring rolls, the non-fried version

Spring rolls, the non-fried version. Fresh, crunchy, chewy and delicious.

Stir fry with peanut sauce

Stir fried pork with peanut sauce

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The Mysterious Bulls Of Guisando

It is a common misconception that culture and civilisation in Spain arrived with the Romans. This isn’t so. Artifacts predating the Roman era are abundant on the Iberian Peninsula. One example are the ubiquitous granite statues depicting cattle, boars, sheep and bears that litter the Castile and Leon region. What we don’t know for certain, however, is who made them, for what purpose, and when exactly.

On our trip to Salamanca last month, my friend Noelia, a self-professed history nut, took me on a little detour to show me the “The Bulls of Guisando”, located next to a lonely country road in the middle of nowhere, half-way between Toledo and Salamanca.

Noelia showing the ancient beast some lovin' ;-)

Noelia showing the ancient beast some lovin’ 😉

Bulls FrontBull

It is believed that a people called the Vettones, who were settled in this area in the 3rd Century BC, made these bulls, as well as thousands more animal statues, many of which survive to this day.

However, much of what has been written about these silent witnesses of an extinct culture is pure conjecture. In fact, the origins and meaning of the Bulls of Guisando are every bit as nebulous as those of the giant stone statues populating the Easter Islands.

 

Red Gate, Yellow Armchairs, Stone Baby

Here are some more pictures taken on my drizzly excursion to Sintra (Portugal), at Christmas.

Red Door

How's that for some eye-catching outdoor furniture...?

How’s that for some eye-catching outdoor furniture…?

Stone baby front

Stone Baby side

The baby was part of an outdoor sculpture exhibition. For the most amusing exhibit, click here.

And If you would like to see a handful more pictures of beautiful Sintra, click here.

The Old And The New: Abstract Iron Sculptures vs. Ancient Town Gates

A crop of newfangled metal sculptures has magically sprung up all over Toledo. Well informed about local cultural ongoings as always, I haven’t a clue where they came from, who made them, and how long they will be staying. It seems they’ve been strategically positioned to strike up an interesting contrast.

One of those rusty creatures in front of Puerta del Sol (Gate of the Sun), built in the 14th century

One of those rusty creatures in front of Puerta del Sol, built in the 14th century

Those twin turrets in the background, as you look through the centre of the 'ear', belong to the Puerta de Bisagra Nueva, built in 1559.

Those twin turrets in the background, as you look through the centre of the ‘ear’, belong to the Puerta de Bisagra Nueva, built in 1559.

Puerta de Bisagra

Behind this the sculpture isn't a beautiful old gate... far from it. This ugly concrete edifice houses escalators, a car park and a conference centre. Yes, Toledo needs all those things, but it surely didn't need this eyesore!

Behind this sculpture isn’t a beautiful old gate… far from it. This ugly concrete edifice houses escalators, a car park and a conference centre down below. Yes, Toledo needs all those things, but it surely didn’t need this eyesore!

Miradero

A shot taken through the aforemaligned concrete structure, showing some of the city wall

Now, I do quite like the sculptures. I’m fond of smooth, curvy things, I can’t quite explain it.

If you want to see some modern ‘art’ in Toledo that’s so spectacularly bad it might scar your retinas, click here. Just remember that I warned you…

Salvador Dalí, Reina Sofía National Art Museum, Madrid. And A Vertical Garden

Today, my friend Maria and I went for a dose of culture. We saw a fantastic exhibition of works by the uncrowned King of Eccentrics, Salvador Dalí. It was much more extensive than we had anticipated, which was a pleasant surprise. We skipped virtually all the films/recorded material, and still, it took as two hours to do the full round.

I’d never been up close to a Dalí painting before, and I was astounded by all the miniscule details, which were suddenly revealed when squinting at the canvas from two inches away. Fortuitously, there were barely any barriers/cords obliging people to keep their distance. Totally worth the €8.70.

Unfortunately, though, they wouldn’t let us take any pics inside the exhibition, not even without a flash – what the hell is that about?!?

Reina Sofia, Dali

Taken from inside the museum - I love the way the street is reflected in the ceiling

Taken from inside the museum – I love the way the street is reflected in the ceiling

Reina Sofia View

I don't know why I like this one. But I do. Humour me...

I don’t know why I like this one. But I do. Humour me…

Side/rear view of the Reina Sofía. Looks a bit like a giant Ark…

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the Reina Sofía or Dalí. It's a "vertical garden", and really stunning close-up

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the Reina Sofía or Dalí. It’s a stunning “vertical garden” that we stumbled upon not far from the museum

What Is Toledo Famous For? Swords!

Always fancied a handy little meat cleaver to cut short this month’s upcoming team meeting? Or a swift Samurai blade for your mother-in-law’s next visit? You’ve come to the right place. Cutting implements of all shapes, sizes and styles populate Toledo’s shop windows. The good old Romans turned the city into a major centre of  weapons manufacture and metal work two thousand years ago. No good trying to subjugate barbarians with a fistful of toothpicks, is it?!

Today, Toledo’s sharp’n’shiny wares are mostly for decoration. And for the film industry. Ever wondered about the origins of the swords, daggers and knives wielded by heroes and baddies in productions like Lord of the Rings, Conan and Xena Warrior Princess? Well, most of these props were made in Toledo. Toledo Swords Window Display

Toledo Swords Window Display

Now, if this isn't every wanna-be celebrity chef's wet dream...!

Now, if this isn’t every wanna-be celebrity chef’s wet dream…!

Even the shop dummies are armed... presumably to deter shoplifters

Even the shop dummies are armed… presumably to deter shoplifters

This jewellery shop isn't shy about the fact that the Lord Of The Rings rings were also made in Toledo

This jewellery shop isn’t shy about the fact that the Lord Of The Rings rings were also made in Toledo

Toledo’s Treasures: Toledo Train Station

In Toledo, it’s hard to know what to photograph first. Everything’s incredibly old and incredibly beautiful. The first amazing thing most people get to see is the train station. Which, as it turns out, isn’t incredibly old at all – the station building went up a mere century ago – but it is incredibly beautiful, nevertheless, and I don’t think you’re going to disagree. Take a look:

Toledo Train Station

Toledo Train Station

Toledo Train Station

The interior is no less stunning…

Toledo Train Station

Toledo Train Station - Interior

Toledo Train Station - Interior

Toledo Train Station - Interior, Ceiling

Toledo Train Station