Garden Paradise: The heart and passion of Madrid's art and culture

Visiting Madrid is a culture explosion. Not only is it great to see the mix of modern and traditional, it's easy to see why it is the beating heart of a vibrant Spanish culture. Wandering around the vast metropolitan city there is such a diverse choice of sights to see, with plenty of cafes and restaurants around, allowing you to do the Spaniards favourite thing... chat animatedly, people watch and drink coffee... or wine with a few dishes of tasty tapas.

Their art galleries are world class with the El Prado, the Reina Sofia to the Thyssen-Bornemisza... all within a short walking distance of each other too. Whatever your preference is you can see art from every century, every genre and every major art period.

Madrid is also renowned for their outside spaces too, from the El Retiro park to the Real Jardin Botanical garden. Along with their amazing weather (28 degrees in October) you can enjoy the gardens to the fullest and it is the Real Jardin that I later focus this blog on.

Firstly I must admit some of my personal highlights from the other art galleries... the internal garden at the Reina Sofia is so peaceful and relaxing with an amazing moving Alexander Calder sculpture at its heart, followed by the absolutely magnificent Guernica by Picasso. Not to be missed. Their Surrealism collections featuring plenty of Dali are well worth visiting. A top tip of mine too is to refer to your guidebook as to when the free Gallery times are so you can get in free on certain days and evenings which will save you a small fortune.

So back to the Real Jardin... located in a perfect spot next to the Prado gallery it contains plant species dating back over 2 centuries, spans 8 hectares and is a space of complete peace and quiet whilst in the centre of Madrid. It is also one of the perfect places to eat your lunch.

In the main building there is usually an art exhibition or two on and these tend to relate to the botanical wonders located in the park. Spanish artist Carmen Varela was exhibiting a collection of her paintings and sculptures combining themes of nature and the landscape alongside human sculptural elements. What struck me were her really interesting canvas forms which were self-constructed convex structures (pic below) which gave those paintings a 3d quality, and a subsequent emphasis on the weight of the painted imagery. Varela's focus is on what she can observe. Different topics feature in her work from flowers, birds, the sky to people and buildings. She strives to see the beauty in the little things. Hence her paintings of flowers are magnified so you can see the magic in their form, colour and pattern. She sees sculpture akin to creating a visual poem and this flows from her paintings into her stand-alone figures. Nature and humans interact playfully together. Her view of skies heighten her (and our) need for contemplation. All in all you can sense her need to enlighten us with her view of the world and our interaction with Mother Nature is at the heart of it.

Concave canvas structure

On until 10th November

Please take note that your art may flourish from reading this blog :)


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