Step towards modernity. Lights and colours in the Mapfre Foundation


Castellano Català

Barcelona has everything, people say. We do not certainly know whether it is true or not, but one thing is for sure: now it has one more place to visit. The new headquarters of the Department of Culture of the Mapfre Foundation has just been installed in the heart of the city. The exhibition hall has been set in the former Casa Garriga Nogués, a modernist palace situated in the intersection between Diputació street and Rambla de Catalunya, near Paseig de Gràcia and the museum of Tàpies, Batllo Haus, La Pedrera the local magic triangle of the stately spaces.

The opening of this new exhibition hall has been on a large scale, with the triumph of colour. From Van Gogh to Matisse. Museum collections d’Orsay and l’Orangerie (#expo_triunfocolor in social networks). An exhibition of more than 70 paintings by the great post-impressionist painters. It is not just the big names that resonate through the halls of the Garriga Nogues, but also their most representative works, along with other lesser-known painters. A strong bond that travels the path of art towards modernity. Colour as the central issue, element that was transformed by experimentation and research, both aesthetic and scientific, into several forms that would lead to abstraction.

During the opening day, last October 8th, we could attend the press conference and a guided tour for the media presented by the scientific curator of the exhibition, also the curator of the Museum of Orsay, Isabelle Cahn. We call it scientific curator because, on the one hand, the exhibition has been curated by Guy Cogeval and Pablo Jiménez Burillo, members of the Mapfre Foundation, and on the other, based on a more scientific methodology, by the aforementioned Cahn. The exhibition is presented in several thematic areas, beginning with the study that the chemist Michel-Eugene Chevreul made about the colour and hues referred to the aesthetics of the pictures in the nineteenth century. His work greatly influenced the post-impressionist artists, who also started to investigate and experiment with colour and light.

Slowly walking through the rooms, we find Van Gogh, Matisse, Gauguin, Seurat and a whole long list of artists who play with colours, lights and shapes and as we move forward the style becomes more abstract, the path to modernity.

Later we attended the press conference where commissioners Burillo and Cahn explained the main features of the exhibition as well as how the opening of this branch of the foundation in the Catalan capital was long ago planned from the main headquarters in Madrid, given the high cultural and innovative tradition of the city. To open this space, explained Jiménez Burillo, they had to stop doing some of the activities they were preparing in Madrid and eliminate one of the four exhibitions that he had planned. The main reason was, as the commissioner explained, the fact that they intended to create an exhibition “according to the Catalan spirit”, in his words, in the Garriga Nogues space, instead of creating a mere branch of the Madrid centre.

We were also told that, precisely the place where the exhibition is located, the Casa Garriga Nogues, presents an almost contemporaneous architecture with large rooms, stucco decorated ceilings, staircases, windows …- in few words, modernist spirit almost coetaneous with post-impressionist paintings, so that in the words of Burillo “less distance is generated,” offering an antagonistic dialogue in style but close in terms of historical time in: the houses where the works were located before coming to Barcelona were decorated much like.

Architecture, paintings and essence mixed in this new bet of the city, opened to the public for free until January 10, 2016.

Guiomar Sánchez

Front painting: ‘Mujeres de Tahití’ Gauguin, 1891, image given by the Foundation.
Storify of the inauguration and press conference:
https://storify.com/mapfreFcultura/roda-de-premsa-expo-triomfcolor

 

Other articles of Guiomar:

 

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