Spanish artists’ dreams of Arabia revealed

The exhibition is split into three sections: landscape scenery, figurative and fantasy-themed imagery, and portraiture. (Supplied)
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Updated 14 February 2020

Spanish artists’ dreams of Arabia revealed

  • Exhibition explores regional influence on 19th-century Spanish painters

MALAGA: When we think of Orientalism — the much-studied and, now, often-derided artistic genre through which colonial-era artists created fantasized imagery of the faraway lands of the East — French titans Eugène Delacroix and Jean-Léon Gérôme’s odalisques, slave markets and hamams usually come to mind.

However, an exhibition at the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga sheds light on how Spanish painters of the 19th century also expressed great interest in this region, depicting a variety of landscapes and combative and figurative compositions inspired mostly by North Africa.




An exhibition at the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga sheds light on how Spanish painters of the 19th century. (Supplied)

“Fantasía Árabe” (Arabian Fantasy), which runs until the first of March, is the first show of its kind at the museum, and showcases more than 80 elaborate oil paintings and intimate watercolors from its collection, along with loaned. Visitors can also observe a few period objects — daggers, drums, ceramics, and old photographs — that have mostly come from the Maghreb. Some of these items were actually collected by the artists themselves, and used as a source of inspiration for their artworks. Co-curated by the museum’s longtime artistic director Lourdes Moreno, the exhibition is split into three sections: landscape scenery, figurative and fantasy-themed imagery, and portraiture.

Although Spanish orientalists such as Marià Fortuny, Josep Tapiró and Francisco Lameyer are generally lesser known than their French counterparts, Moreno believes they nevertheless belonged to the “international mainstream” of artists at the time. She sees no major stylistic differences in how the French and Spanish approached Orientalist themes; both focused on depictions of snake charmers and folklore, and were equally enthralled by the elements of mystery, fantasy, and the exotic.

Historically speaking, what differentiated North Africa’s relationship with Spain from any other European country is the influential presence of Moorish history, design and architecture through long-standing Arab rule in Andalusia. “Spain has, of course, a special connection with Arabic topics, whether cultural and historical, in the past, over a period of 831 years,” Moreno told Arab News.




The exhibition is co-curated by the museum’s longtime artistic director Lourdes Moreno. (Supplied) 

The displayed works were created in a critical period between 1860 and 1900. “It was the most important period for orientalist painters. This period was like the maturity phase in this kind of painting, which was very rich and had different styles, like Romantic and academic. Delacroix, who was a Romantic painter, started painting in about 1832, and by 1900, this painting style had a change of quality,” Moreno explained.

The Hispano-Moroccan War of 1859-60, which resulted in Morocco seeking peace after Spain declared victory at the Battle of Tetuán, was a major event that sparked the imagination of these artists, she pointed out. Among them was the Catalan artist Marià Fortuny, who is considered a pioneer of Spanish Orientalist painting.

Trained in academic painting in Rome, Fortuny received the opportunity of a lifetime — granted by the provincial council in Barcelona — to become a war artist in his early twenties: “Fortuny went to Morocco three times — in 1860, 1862, and 1871 — because they wanted him to paint images of this historical war,” Moreno said. “He was like a war journalist.”

Settling in Tetuan, a mountainside town in northern Morocco, Fortuny was inspired by this landscape, leading him to create several sketches that ultimately manifested in the form of a monumental painting, “The Battle of Tetuan” (1862-4). A lively scene of galloping Moroccans and attacking Spaniards, Fortuny’s symbolic commission represented the idea that “Spanish authorities were logically interested in conveying a heroic image of the Spanish troops’ feats of war,” according to co-curator Francesc Quílez.




The exhibition expressed great interest in this region, depicting a variety of landscapes and combative and figurative compositions inspired mostly by North Africa. (Supplied)

Away from politics and warfare, beautiful portraits of Moorish men and women make a significant appearance in this display. In fact, the exhibition has been marketed to the public with a little-known dreamy 1880s portrait (entitled “Muchacha Mora”) by Francesc Masriera — who never visited North Africa — of a Moorish girl adorned with Oriental jewelry and clothing, gazing away from the viewer.  

Orientalism remains controversial — with many seeing it as condescending and patronizing — but its artworks are still in demand, with auction houses selling them at significant prices to private collectors and museums. And Moreno believes that the artists are often harshly judged.

“There are different theories about Orientalism: Sometimes it’s true that the artists from the Occident obviously used their own point of view, but they also wanted to show to the European public the differences of another fascinating culture’s smells, colors, and clothes,” she said. “It wasn’t always political: these artists felt like travelers and were sympathetic towards, and curious about, this kind of culture.”


Bella Hadid shares heartfelt message for Eid

The star extended warm wishes to her followers. (AFP)
Updated 25 May 2020

Bella Hadid shares heartfelt message for Eid

  • Bella Hadid said that this holiday season was always special to her as a child

DUBAI: Part-Palestinian model Bella Hadid took a trip down memory lane on Instagram on Sunday to reflect on her Eid memories with her family.

The star extended warm wishes to her followers and said that this holiday season was always special to her as a child.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid) on

“I remember the beauty of Ramadan, and fasting with my father and my Teta when I was young. Eid was so special for me, to be able to celebrate together,” she wrote to her 30.8 million followers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Eid Mubarak my friends and family عيد مبارك As Ramadan comes to a close, my thoughts are with families and children around the world without a safe place to call home. I remember the beauty of Ramadan, and fasting with my father and my Teta when I was young. Eid was so special for me, to be able to celebrate together. It makes my heart break thinking about the children and families that are separated and unable to unite during this time. I wish there was a way that I could take the pain away or more that I could do...But for this week, I will be supporting and donating to three charities that are working endlessly, in different ways, to help support Refugees, displaced families, families in the front lines of conflict and very importantly, the powerful and beautiful Middle Eastern children across Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and other affected regions. @preemptivelove @unrwausa and @mecaforpeace I would like to explain to you exactly what these amazing organizations do...The Middle East Children's Alliance works for the rights and well being of children in the middle east. They support dozens of community projects for Palestinian children and refugees from Syria. MACA has been dedicated to making sure the children get direct aid like food, water, clothes, toys, books and school supplies... Financial Support and assistance in the West Bank and Gaza that helps children get basic needs such as accessible parks, kindergarten classes, libraries, sports, MUSIC/ art programs etc! They also offer university programs to help Palestinians grow up to be everything they can be. I will be supporting this organization for a very long time I want these children to know that they are so special and that there are people here that care about them.. ( if you would kindly slide to the right to see how Preemtive Love Coalition & UNRWA USA have dedicated their time as well) my Preemtive Love Coalition donation link will be in my Bio Thank you for reading I would love for you to join me to help these incredible charities, and if not, spreading the word will always help.. We can and will be the voice for the ones who cannot be heard ‎عيد مبارك

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid) on

Captioning a series of pictures of refugees and displaced families in the Middle East, the 23-year-old model said: “As Ramadan comes to a close, my thoughts are with families and children around the world without a safe place to call home.

“It makes my heart break thinking about the children and families that are separated and unable to unite during this time. I wish there was a way that I could take the pain away or more that I could do.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

My rider! @gigihadid 25...big girl!!!

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid) on

The supermodel has always been vocal in her support of less-fortunate families in the region. This week, she announced that she would be donating to three charities to help support “refugees, displaced families, families in the front lines of conflict and very importantly, the powerful and beautiful Middle Eastern children across Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and other affected regions.”

Her heartfelt message went on to explain what each of these three organizations — Preemptive Love, UNRWA USA, and Middle East Children’s Alliance — do to help the needy.

“I want these children to know that they are so special and that there are people here that care about them,” Hadid wrote.