FROM TOOWOOMBA TO SPAIN AND BACK AGAIN – IN 24 HOURS!
The fastest way for a Toowoomba person to get to Spain is to visit the Portrait of Spain—Masterpieces from the Prado exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery. 100 paintings and prints are on loan from the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. The QAG walls have been re-painted red and the gallery has been converted into a little Spanish culture experience.
We visited the show last Saturday and participated in what was offered to the viewer/attendee.
The paintings were magnificent examples of oil painting from the 16th-19th century. Spanish aristocracy, royalty, religious iconography, decorative still-life and court-life. There were no nude or clothed Majas, no Meninas nor swirling clouded El Greco landscapes however there were a few of the famous work to stir the interest. One work of huge scale and interest was Pereda’s The Relief of Genoa.
The exhibition is extended over many rooms and is broken into eras and subject matter. Didactic panels and QR coded prompts help the visitor to discover the curator’s spin on what they are seeing.
All in all the Spanish portraits seem a pretty interesting lot. Fine clothing, porcelain skin, mustashes (even on some women), dogs, horses drawfs and aloof expressions abound. Then you enter the Goya’s Disasters of War series—It’s a reminder that for much of the duration of time that this exhibition covers the Spanish were at war with most of Europe at one time or another and were exercising colonial power and plunder in Central America, the Phillipines and other places.
The last room of the exhibition features the 19th century—some predictible landscapes, one entitled ‘Landscape with sheep’, our own QAG Picasso La Belle Hollandaise and some works which didn’t seem to add to the narrative of Spain in the context of the emerging trends in world art at the time.
We breezed through the exhibition shop and were drawn to the Tapas Bar for lunch after which we were enticed to play with the ‘DIY interactive portrait photobooths’ and the still-life drawing stations accompanied by a Spanish guitar performance.
Seeing the exhibition is one thing but now, in the contemporary manifestation of gallery, we experienced a little more; Spanish culture, the work practice of the artist and other entertainment. We went to see a art exhibition and came away with so much more …