Thursday, October 11, 2018

Guernica Renamed (and Reinvented)

One of Spain's most famous paintings, the dramatic and bleak artwork known as 'Guernica' and painted by Pablo Picasso, has an interesting history. 
For one thing, it was painted before the attack on the Basque city of Guernica by the Condor Squadron in April 1937 (in passing, one of the pilots in the Luftwaffe 'Operation Rügen' was a man called Günter who used to drink in a Mojácar bar called La Sartén back in the seventies). 
The painting was originally called 'Recuerdo a mi amigo Sanchez Mejías', a bullfighter who had died in the ring in August 1934. Picasso finished the painting, dedicated to his friend, in February 1937 (two months before the Guernica atrocity) and it was already hanging in the Spanish Pavilion at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. With a practical eye on current events, a culture delegate from the Republican side decided to rename the painting following the attack.
From Luciernagas y Coyotes we read: 'The painting does not represent any act of war, but rather the death of a bullfighter; with the bull agonizing, the frightened horses, the horrified gestures from the public, the light bulb over the infirmary and the broken sword in the foreground.
The bullfighter, lies broken, with his sword broken, because he has lost, and the bull appears with the sword stuck, with a anguished expression: his name was "Granadino".
The symbolism of the mother with the child in her arms, crying, is that of all mothers losing their child, regardless of their age (losing a child is unnatural, as parents usually die first), so it shows her great anguish, as well as all the other characters, because he was a very admired bullfighter'.
Whether it honours the death of a bullfighter friend or stands as a powerful symbol against war, Picasso's masterpiece is worthy of its place in the world's collection of masterpieces.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

A Short Break

Before the fuss with my broken ankle, Loli and I had taken a week's holiday, driving towards a tiny rural hostal called Apikale in the tiny settlement of Bedarona, north of Guernika. The house is on a high lip of verdant land, with falling cliffs to the ocean far below. There's not much in the way of beaches, and the tide races in twice a day.
Álvaro and Susi run the place. There are just four comfortable bedrooms with large wooden terraces, and downstairs there's the kitchen with a table, a breakfast room and a lounge. Generally, after helping out, we would settle around a table outside for some memorable meals, and plenty of local wine. The other guests ranged from Spaniards to Swedes, to a young Belgian surfer couple and so on.
The nearest neighbour is half a kilometre away, and the house is ringed with forest, hiking trails and fields.
In one field, there was a cow.
My companion Loli, who runs Albero Centro Ecuestre in Almería, a riding school, likes cows. This one was pregnant. Loli's joy overflowed when it delivered (with her help) a fine young bullock.
The mother was exhausted, and Loli milked her for her colostrum - the mother's first sticky lactation which is full of special nutrients. The things that happen on a holiday.
We spent three days with Álvaro and Susi, with some walks, a trip to the local port of Lequeitio where the beers are very large, the tiny beach is briefly available for bathers and the locals are friendly - if, like everyone in Spain, a little tired of so many tourists.
The season is short at Apikale, and they are now closed for the winter.  



Monday, October 01, 2018

Murdoch Looks at Spanish Acquisitions

Imagine if Rupert Murdoch, the right-wing champion and defender of both Brexit and Donald Trump, the owner of Fox News, the Times of London, The S*n and dozens of other influential far-right newspapers and TV channels, were to pick up some major Spanish daily newspapers to add to his collection.
Working with his star employee and lobbyist José María Aznar, the one-time president of Spain, the naturalised American mogul is currently in talks with RCS Media Group, the Italian owners of El Mundo (Spain's second newspaper) and is also looking at acquiring shares in the august ABC newspaper.
The main Spanish newspapers aren't already far enough to the right?
They will be.

More on this here.