Extremadura is a place more often associated with cultural and nature tourism, however contemporary art is a resource that does not stop growing, both in urban areas and in rural environments, in closed spaces and in open- air museums. Extremadura is a vast region in Spain that is west of Madrid and borders with Portugal.
Open air museums
Contemporary art in Extremadura goes beyond the limits of the museum walls to transform villages into authentic outdoor canvases.
The most popular example is the asbestos facades of a town called Piornal. They exhibit eleven outdoor murals that are an authentic open-air museum. Fine Art students from the “Universidad de Sevilla” (Seville University) created these murals.
The “living façades” of Sierra de Gata have joined this movement through the “Agua Dulce” project of mural art at several municipalities of the region.
Another example of this trend is the trompe-l’oeil of Romangordo, made by a group of Extremadura Artist of the “Colectivo Muro” and Fine Arts students from Madrid.
Cáceres Abierto (Cáceres Open)
Contemporary Art to be viewed on the streets of Cáceres is a real advertisement to attract tourist to the different townships of this region. In fact, the plans are to hold related workshops and conferences. This is a real challenge for artists that measure their talent in the light of a region that is committed to the creative development.
Such is the case of “Cáceres Abierto” formerly called “Foro Sur”, where patrons are able to interest of not only the general public but also specialized agents and art connoisseurs of both national and international art.
Contemporary Art with important names
In these scenes of contemporary art certain proper names claim the stardom.
The Helga de Alvear Foundation
With in the confines of the historic center of the city of Cáceres, the Helga Alvear Foundation (the header photo of this text) occupies the palace known as the “Casa Grande”, on the Pizarro street, a modernist building that treasures one of the most important contemporary art collections of international art in Spain and also, one of the best in Europe. The museum houses the collection of German born gallerist and collector Helga Alvear, masterpieces that were chosen for their artistic advances and creative techniques. The collection is considered premier world collection in its genre.
The MEIAC Badajoz, a prison turned into a museum
The former preventive prison of Badajoz was converted into space for communications and culture. This Museum promotes an active dialogue between the contemporary art tendencies in Extremadura, the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America.
The geographic situation of Extremadura, as bordering region with Portugal is evidenced in the spirit of this artistic space, which has a clear modernist and modernizing objective, and has presented names such as Francis Alÿs, Liset Castillo, Eva and Franco Mattes and some Extremeño artist such as Genin Andrada and Rufino Mesa.
Casa Spinola in Azuaga
The “Casa Spinola” is the museum of Contemporary Art of Azuaga, which shows a compendium of almost 200 works of art donated by top artist of different tendencies. Mayte Spinola from Azuaga promotes the Institution.
Six years after its initial opening, in 2007, the Spinola Museum was joined with the local Ethnographic Museum by a large connective patio where sculptures by Carlos Alcazar and Raul Apausa can be enjoyed.
The Vostell Museum, Avant-Garde in Los Barruecos
To approach the Vostell Museum is to learn about the curious relationship between the neighbors of Malpartida de Cáceres and the German artist Wolf Vostell (1932-1998), who set foot in Malpartida de Cáceres, for the first time, in the mid 70´s. where he resided and founded the Contemporary Art Museum, which now bears his name.
Thanks to this curious synergy the town of Malpartida de Cáceres went from the Francoist darkness to the avant-garde movement Fluxus without intermediated stadiums. The works of Vostell and other artist have been perpetuated in that rocky and prehistoric landscape, chosen to shoot the seventh season of “Game of Thrones”.
The museum is located in an old wool washhouse from the XVIII century, which in itself deserves a visit, as it is a sample of industrial architecture related to livestock of the Mesta.
Vanderlinde Foundation in Montánchez
This is an other example of a small town in Extremadura that houses an artistic treasure: the VanderLinde Foundation, promoted be the Dutch painter Alwin Van der Linde, who lives between Madrid and the municipality of Montánchez in Cáceres, where the organization has its headquarters. Here is a stage where one can contemplate the pictorial realism of Antonio López, the imagery of the visual artist Hugo Wirz or the figurative art of Matías Quetglás.
Original article by Eduardo Villanueva
Translated by Susana Windt
Published in November 2017