The 200th anniversary of the Prado * Visiting the Prado Museum with Spanish artist Miquel Barceló
September 26, 2020
dunaway13 (263 articles)
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The 200th anniversary of the Prado * Visiting the Prado Museum with Spanish artist Miquel Barceló

The Mallorcan painter discusses his favorite artworks and masters at Madrid’s world-famous gallery, as he wanders its corridors with his friend, photographer Jean Marie del Moral

Where should we start? Van der Weyden, for example. I am standing in front of The Descent from the Cross. I often come to look at this painting. One day, after lots of visits, I realized that its intense presence was due to something very concrete – the subjects are enclosed within a very narrow kind of frame. If you look at the corners of the painting, you’ll notice that they are no more than a meter deep. And in front, there is a line that none of the characters cross. So it’s all contained within a space that is no bigger than our table. Imagine all of us, plus a cross, plus a body, plus a fainting woman inside such a narrow space!

Obviously it’s impossible but Van der Weyden managed to get them all in and it is precisely this that creates a visual contradiction and makes it genius. There is also an extraordinary interplay with the hands; all the subjects are touching each other, there is always a point of contact. If we sent an electric current they would all be electrocuted, except for the Virgin and her son, Jesus Christ. They are almost touching each other but there is a centimeter separating their hands. That centimeter is death.

Barceló stands in front of ‘Las Meninas’ (or, The Ladies in Waiting).

Let’s move on to Velázquez. Las Hilanderas (or, The Spinners). These women are weaving and the woman who is using the spinning wheel holds the thread in her hand. If we examine this thread, we see how it turns; it is in contact with the bobbin and ends in the tapestry. It is like the thread of life. If we pull on it, it is all there – even absence. And that is the definition of Baroque. Spin and unravel. Make and take apart. Even the paint seems to be unraveling. Everything within his material can disintegrate. I always thought that Velázquez didn’t like painting. That he did it very quickly. He was an extremely dexterous painter, very efficient. There’s no more efficient painter than Velázquez. {>>>}

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