Monday to Thursday I was on a study visit to Madrid. It was a really lovely experience, and although we visited quite a few galleries, I think I was influenced as much by the city’s architecture and the culture there. The first day, I visited the Museo del Prado. I particularly liked looking at the later works of Francisco Goya, images that I found to be a lot more disturbing in real life than in images I’d seen online etc. They had a really shocking presence; it reminded me of a lecture I’d had earlier in the year about The Sublime, and how the definition of the sublime relates to a physical, bodily reaction rather than a mental one. I think repulsion, and definitely fear as a reaction is very physical, perhaps more powerful to the viewer than adoration/appreciation of beauty.
I also saw Velázquez’ Las Meninas while at the Prado. It was perhaps a bit underwhelming, to see something that I’ve been researching around in the flesh; I think I thought I’d be moved a bit, or feel more involved than I did. It definitely helped to understand the perspective, and the way in which the viewer becomes a part of the scene.
We also saw a few independent galleries whilst exploring the city. In particular I really liked the work of artist Ester Partegás being shown in a gallery called Nogueras Blanchard. The work was essentially resin that had been poured onto tarpaulin sheets that you might find in a market, trying to show the structure of the material. The resin was hung on scaffolding, making them look like windows. There was definitely a sense of embracing the industrial and the found object, something that I haven’t really thought about in a while. When I started painting onto glass last year I wanted the viewer to be able to react through multiple angles, whether that be in front of, behind or from the side, and the initial idea was to hang them so that a person could become a part of the work by being in another viewer’s line of sight. I feel that these works – The Passerby by Ester Partegás – do this really effectively. It’s something I might start thinking about in my work again if I come across any large sheets of plastic or discarded windows again.