Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Palacio Cristal

In El Jardin del Buen Retiro - Retiro for short - there's a wonderful building, the Palacio de Cristal, which I've written about before. It was built in the late 19th-early 20th century as an exhibition centre, and nowadays, as a satellite of the Museo Nacional Centro Reina Sofia (the Reina Sofia for short!) it is a venue for art exhibitions - smack in the middle of the park!

The current exhibition, called La corte del rey Arthur, or King Arthur's Court, charts the themes that have preoccupied Polish sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz through several decades. I really, really liked this, and the links go some way to explain the flow of her ideas. The artist also designed a canopy to fit the peculiar design of the Palacio de Cristal, and the result is quite spectacularly successful. There is lots of space around the sculptures, enabling people to move freely, and to stop and reflect without causing an obstruction or being edged along by a flow of bodies. Daylight filters through the white canopy, so that every piece is perfectly lit, without shadows, and full of energy. At the same time, the frequent curving gaps in the canvas frame individual pieces so that you can see them in isolation. I loved it. It was only later, though, that I noticed the wonderful shadows that the camera had picked up, as the exhibition hall became part of the exhibition. Marvellous. I must go again.

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