Gabarron's Alhambra sculptures speak loud about cultural integration in Beijing

Gabarron's Alhambra sculptures speak loud about cultural integration in Beijing
Spanish artist Cristobal Gabarron brings six of his Alhambra Towers to Today Art Museum in Beijing. [Photo/ECNS]

In lively colors of green, blue, orange and red, six sculptures of Alhambra Towers by celebrated Spanish artist Cristobal Gabarron are on exhibit in the open square of Beijing's Today Art Museum.

This is Gabarron's first solo show here. An opening ceremony was held at the museum on Friday afternoon, attended by the artist, Spanish ambassador to China Manuel Valencia, and director Alex Gao Peng.

"The relationship of an artwork with the environment is as important as the artwork itself," said Valencia, who is an artist himself. "So I think putting the pieces in an open square enables the audience to interact with the sculptures."

The six works are a tribute to the heritage of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. It has played witness to the cultural coexistence of Muslims and Christians for centuries.

Its earliest history dates back to the 9th century as a small fortress. It was later rebuilt with a complex of surrounding buildings in the 11th century by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, and converted into a royal palace in the 13th century. The arrival of the Catholic monarchs brought new structures to it such as the Palace of Charles V. The result is an architectural symbiosis that is unique in the world.

"My father often took me to the Alhambra as a child. I grew interested in Arab culture and how different cultures integrate with each other," Gabbaron said. "Sometimes religious difference brings clashes and even war. So I created these sculptures to show people that different cultures could communicate smoothly and tolerate each other."

The Spanish master mixes painting and sculpture in a single art piece. The silhouette and bright colors applied all over the edges of the work constitute the unique characteristics of one of the most outstanding monuments of world heritage.

In the words of art philosopher Alfredo Mateos Paramio, Gabarron has erected the "towers in homage that surround an invisible palace, like that shaded ring the Turkish turtle doves wear in our parks. Splendid watchtowers in which a Mediterranean palette burns and whose surfaces do not cease to be imbued with living memory: the Alhambra of our shared memory, the Alhambra of the artist's youthful wanderings."

The exhibition will go on until December 20. Gabbaron will take his sculptures to other cities in China as well. Programs such as mural drawings for children will be launched in Guangzhou to showcase the charm of art.

IF YOU GO:

Date: October 10 – December 20, 2015

Location: Today Art Museum

Address: Pingod community, No. 32 Baiziwan Rd., Chaoyang District, Beijing

Tel: 8610-58760600

Website: www.todayartmuseum.com