Postcard from Malaga, Spain: Centro de Arte Contemporaneo

Yet one more contribution to the explosion of art museums in Malaga, the Contemporary Art Museum opened in a spacious former wholesale market house in 2003.

Some of the works pictured are from the permanent collection; others are from a temporary exhibition open while we were there, “Make Something Different.” The show spotlights the resurfacing of Pop Art reinterpreted through the eyes of a new generation merging influences of “cartoons, animation, games, music, underground culture and advertising design.”

I had not realized the museum’s proximity to two enormous building-size murals pictured in the prior blog post on street art in Malaga was no mere coincidence. The poster above indicates that works by artists D’Face and Shepard Fairey – “managing quality dissent since 1989” – were featured in a two-person show in 2015. On his website, D’Face describes the luxury of large-scale:

Whoever said that size doesn’t matter? As an artist working in a world of image saturation through mass media, it’s always been important for me to make art that stands out from the crowd – nothing does that quite like a mural. From Los Angeles to Tokyo, every wall I’ve ever encountered presented a unique challenge, its own concrete personality. There’s nothing quite like stepping back from a wall you’ve had to do battle with for a week and seeing your vision come to life. They’re big, they’re bold and they’re downright badass….

Postcard from Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy: History with a horse hanging overhead

Mankind will discover objects in space sent to us by the watchers….

Michel de Nostradamus (1503-1566)

With prophecies such as that, it seems amazing contemporaries of Nostradamus placed much stock in his words. Yet he was a favorite of the French royals.

Nostradamus was dispatched to Castello di Rivoli, outside of and perched above Turin, at the end of 1561 to assist Margaret (1523-1574), the Duchess of Savoy, as she approached time to give birth. Well, not merely to assist as much as to bear witness to confirm the newborn truly emerged from the birth canal of the 35-year-old duchess.

Margaret’s brother, King Henry II (1519-1559) of France, hoped this would be impossible. If the Duke of Savoy, Emanuele Filiberto (1553-1580), failed to produce an heir, the Savoy holdings would be transferred to France. Nostradamus, however, predicted a son would be born and, lo and behold, was proven correct.

Despite her advanced age, Margaret saved the House of Savoy by producing the requisite heir, Carlo Emanuele I (1580-1630). A brilliant flash in the sky above the castle served as a sign to Emanuele Filiberto of the significance of this miraculous occurrence.

While the court moved down from the Castello di Rivoli into Turin, the palace on the hilltop always remained important to the Savoys. Carlo Emanuele I commissioned architects to transform his medieval birthplace into a palatial retreat, with towers added to link the main residence to the adjacent Manica Lunga housing some of his art collection.

After the French destroyed much of the compound during their invasion, Vittorio Amadeo II (1666-1732) determined to resurrect the castle as a grand symbol of the power of the new Kingdom of Sardinia. Much of the work was undertaken under the direction of architect Filippo Juvarra (1678-1736).

In 1883, the Savoy family sold the castle to the city of Turin which, to the detriment of the buildings and their interiors, rented it to the army. Then there was the damage caused by German occupation and bombings associated with World War II.

There was new hope for Rivoli, however. Funding began to arrive and the architect Andrea Bruno, whose name is tied to the complex’s rebirth, provided the first projects. Almost all the exterior doors and windows had disappeared, stucco work and paintings had been damaged through rain and dampness, tapestries were destroyed, woodwork had rotted. The first collapses took place in 1978, with the large vault crumbling to pieces in the grand hall on the second floor…. Coming to the aid of Rivoli was Marquis Panza di Biumo, an important contemporary art collector, in search of a venue where he could install a part of his collection.

In August 1979, restoration work on the Castello alone began, and would last until 1984, when it opened its doors as the Museum of Contemporary Art. This work took into account its entire past, respecting its architecture, but with modern additions like the elevator, the suspended staircase, the platform on the late 1700s vault, and the panoramic area on the third floor.

From 1984 to 1986, Andrea Bruno began working on the Manica Lunga, but unfortunately a lack of funds closed down the site, which reopened only in 1996. It was in February 2000 that the building, first born to host Carlo Emanuele I’s picture gallery, refound its age-old splendor. The structure was maintained with the inclusion of the vault’s overturned hull-shaped steel cover and the steel and glass stairs joining the 17th-century structure.

History of Castello Di Rivoli

When we visited Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, a major Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) exhibition was featured (sorry, no  photos allowed). But you probably want to know about the horse. Of course.

The medium for this 1997 installation piece, “Novecento,” by Maurizio Cattelan is obvious. An embalmed taxidermy horse, unavailable at most artists’ supply stores.

A different allusion to an existential condition, where the subject is deprived of any possibility of action, is elaborated in “Novecento” (1900), 1997…. A new take on the concept of natura morta (“still life,” literally “dead nature”), the final image is one of frustrated tension, of energy destined to find no outlet. By the artist’s own admission, insecurity is a defining aspect of his approach, and the idea of failure is a theme that recurs in many of his works.

While waiting for the regular bus running back and forth from Turin, we passed up on the handsome museum’s café for a spot a flight of stairs down the hill. Nothing fancy. Plastic chairs. But the private bocce club welcomed us.

Bocce competition was fierce on the court adjacent to the patio. Regular local foursomes also were engaged in serious, to the point spectators would pull up chairs to observe, games of scopa (sweep). The regional card game is played with large, unfamiliar decks of cards.

For us, the most unexpected aspect of the bocce and scopa games was the participants’ choice of beverages. While we sipped our beers, everyone else was drinking water.

Postcard from Oaxaca, Mexico: Sarabia’s narco mixed-media tales fill second floor of MACO

One of the early mixed-media installations of Eduardo Sarabia, a native of Los Angeles living in Guadalajara, tapped into a journey sparked by his grandfather’s map of the rumored buried treasure left behind by Pancho Villa.

That and later stories are included in his current show occupying the entire second floor of the Contemporary Art Museum of Oaxaca (MACO). Traditional forms of Talavera pottery are transformed by symbols associated with narco-trafficking, contrasting the beauty of the culture with the dark undercurrents swirling underneath.

During a 2014 interview published on the website of the Arizona State University Art Museum, Sarabia reflected on the temptations posed by gangs when he was growing up in Los Angeles. A teacher noticed his talent and persuaded his parents to send him to Saturday art classes:

When both your parents are working and you grow up in a bad neighborhood, it is easy to get caught up in these things. Art saves lives.