Saturday, 2 January 2016

Lets get lost in Barcelona.

The next study visit took us to Barcelona. And Madrid. I liked Barcelona more. I'd taken to printmaking at the time , one of the endless round of trying things out and projects we were subjected to as first years , all I wanted to do was paint , but that wasn't going to happen. On the Ramblas , down a side street I found a record store which was still selling vinyl , and in the shop was a gate fold edition of Jimi Hendrix's Axis bold as love . Still to my mind his most complete album.

The first night in Barcelona was a disaster, got off the plane and went immediately to a cafe , sat outside in the winter cold and drank most of the money I'd come with. Whilst others hung out in the opera bar or the less salubrious London bar , smoking draw and drinking less expensively than I had managed . This was pre-Olympics , the hotel we were staying in was an old ex brothel , but beautiful in a faded art nouveau way , the breakfast room was tiled with glass blocks which let in light from the entrance below. The staircases were winding light metal , lots of fade olive green and old light through patio doors. I spent most of the night hugging a toilet and throwing up , but still managed to get up for breakfast and a wander around Guell park , Gaudi cathedral , and too follow endless hordes of Japanese tourists around with my friends .

 As far as I can remember I was listening to a lot of Pink Floyd in those days , especially the wall, Comfortably numb in particular , which maybe why when 
 I saw the garden of earthly delights by Bosch and Saturn eating his children by Goya , and of course El Greco's work they had a profound effect on me.

I also made sketches which i would later turn into prints , I prefer the sketches and the prints are now long lost . They're drawn in a graphic designers layout book , the pages semi transparent and from that I found a way of reusing multiple elements through successive drawings in a kind of jigsaw fashion , seeing what fitted with an analogy of painting if ever there was one.

And of course the icing on the cake of the whole trip was getting back to England on the rickety Britannia airways turboprop being searched by customs for drugs , they dragged the whole plane into a separate search area then went seat to seat asking us if anyone had been carrying drugs on board. we were all hungover , hungry and tired after burning through money and time in the speed freak way that only art students have .

Forget to mention of course, the triumph of death , If i remember correctly that was Pieter Bruegel the Elder . That also had a serious effect on me . But the idea of storytelling within pictures was still something I was trying to get an idea of. Every element becomes personalized , every element within a painting or drawing becomes a part of my own personal mythology.

What always puzzled me was why was there a Mc-Donalds in Madrid , there were Americans in the cue , one of whom said to me ' Thank god for finding some American food' , in a city of incredible cuisine and culture , I ate there out of desperation because a friend was buying ( she wouldn't give me the money in case I spent it on beer) but they ate there out of choice.

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