Thursday, February 26

Spring is coming: Gerbera Daisies

Gerbera Daisies [enlarge]

Spring is coming. On TV they said it was 20ºC in the South yesterday and almond trees are in blossom in Lleida, Catalonia. Maybe the weather in Spain won't be that warm till next month but at least days are longer. The happiest and most invigorating time of the year is around the corner in this part of the world. By the way, it's not the first time I show Gerbera daisies in Barcelona Photoblog. What can I do if they are so common in our gardens. I offer them to honor the upcoming March equinox. Welcome Spring!

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Wednesday, February 25

Of Why Flowers Are So Farking Beautiful

Flower bouquet [enlarge]

Have you stopped to think why flowers are so attractive, so appealing to the human eye?. There is much more symbolism in holding a flower in your hand, even the most modest daisy, than just a blade of grass or a branch, maybe an olive or a laurel branch could have some, but there are certainly a lot of unconscious or subconscious concepts, images, dreams, memories triggered in our mind by the mere contemplation of some beautiful flowers. Notice that I don't mean just the effect of colors but also the influence of shape and textures. Take this bouquet I found at Las Ramblas. It is exuberant, isn't it? In what sense? I changed the colors on purpose just to see the effects playing with different channels in Photoshop. The flowers kept looking beautiful in all of them. Maybe it is just the light falling on those petals or the voluptuosity of the turgent bulbs that remind you of lips and so on? I don't know. I finally decided to keep a touch of color but with a burnt sienna layer on top that makes it look like a canvas and much more artistic perhaps. The hypnotic effect is still there though and I can't explain why. Can you?

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Tuesday, February 24

Carnival Costumes

Carnival Costumes [enlarge]

Carnival costumes may have the most unusual designs. This isn't by far one of my best captures. The background was horrible and I was using the built-in flash but I noticed that still this ghostly image can have some weird, spooky Indian halo around it.

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Friday, February 20

Flashy Wall Mural, Barcelona

Flashy Wall Mural, Barcelona [enlarge]

This is some flashy wall mural I found in the Raval area. I don't know exactly what it means although it talks about the power of images and words. The casc antic area (old town) is full of them.

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Tuesday, February 17

Carnival 2009 in Barcelona is Coming!

Carnival 2009 in Barcelona is Coming! [enlarge]

Next Saturday a big parade will take place in Barcelona to celebrate our Carnival 2009. Not so famous but getting better all the time. As you can imagine I have no recent pictures but I thought this pirate character might do the trick just to start getting in the mood. There are many sites online anticipating carnestoltes but this is the official site: Carnaval 09. Hmm, I hope they update the site soon.

Calendar Carnival 2009

19/02/2009: Dirty Thursday
21/02/2009: Big Parade
25/02/2009: Ash Wednesday

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Wednesday, February 11

Arc de Triomf: A Landmark of Barcelona

Arc de Triomf: A Landmark of Barcelona [enlarge]

Barcelona's Arc de Triomf monument was built on the Ciutadella park during one of the most important events in the history of our city: the first Universal Exhibition of 1888. This triumphant arch which the Romans used to build to receive and honor victorious armies after their numerous invasions, was designed by architect Josep Vilaseca to act as the entrance to the Sant Joan Hall on the exhibition area. It is inevitable to think of other famous arches like the one in Paris. This one is not a world reference but it is one of our symbolic buildings and is tightly linked to our history. At the top of the beautiful brick monument we find several friezes, the one on the main façade, overlooking Paseo San Juan, containing the "Barcelona welcomes the nations" sculpture by Joseph Reynés, another on the rear façade with a sculpture called "Reward" by Joseph Lemon representing the delivery of awards to participants in the exhibition and finally the friezes on the sides with allegories of Agriculture, Industry and Trades. Previous posts: Triumph Arch or Arc de Triomphe and Arc de Triomph Detail.

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Monday, February 9

Sant Pau Hospital: Cupolas

Art Nouveau Cupola, Sant Pau Hospital [enlarge]

Can you imagine a hospital with buildings like this? Think of a central square with colorful flowers and bloomed orange trees surrounded by brick wall pavilions crowned with beautiful Art Nouveau cupolas and literally covered with sculptures and assorted architectural adornments. That is not a dream, it exists. You only have to visit Sant Pau Hospital (Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau). Maybe you would say: "No way, I don't like hospitals". Well, you don't need to visit the wards. Just enter through the main gate on Cartagena street, one block away from L5 blue subway line (there are other entrances but this one is by far the most interesting) climb the stairs and walk through the main administration building towards the square. You can sit on a bench there, take a lot of wonderful pictures and most of all, enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the place. When you leave you won't have the feeling you visited a hospital but a certain feeling that you have been in contact with a beautiful past. If you check this previous post you will find a map of Sant Pau hospital: Modernist Wall Adornment.

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Friday, February 6

Hammered Dulcimer Player on Portal del Angel, Barcelona

Hammered Dulcimer Player [enlarge]

I am no music expert but after some research I would say this is a modest variant of a hammered dulcimer or psaltery (salterio in Spanish). There is some confusion about the terms dulcimer and psaltery whether the strings are plucked or hammered but experts say both words have been used indistinctly through history. As you can guess this is a very old instrument. It appeared in Persia about 2000 years ago and our modern piano evolved from this peculiar wooden box. This woman was in the middle of Portal del Angel flooding the place with sweet melodies that evoked ancient times. If you want to feel the same take a look at this marvelous video: Mermaid Medieval Hammered Dulcimer.

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Thursday, February 5

Modernist Gate at Els Quatre Gats Tavern, Carrer Montsio 3 bis, Barcelona

Modernist Gate at Els Quatre Gats Tavern, Carrer Montsio 3 bis, Barcelona [enlarge]

You wonder sometimes what Catalan Art Nouveau artists had in mind when they let go their imagination till their artwork almost reached the level of absurdity often sacrificing functionality for the sake of beauty. Take the case of the ironwork on this modernist gate. Obviously you could easily jump over the gate, I don't think anyone would get hurt with those "sharp" pod-like points but aren't they cute!. You can find this gate at Montsió street near Portal de l'Angel, specifically at the Modernista tavern Els Quatre Gats which opened in 1897. The wrought ironwork belongs to artist Manuel Ballarín. Check this good review of the Els Quatre Gats tavern, to have a better idea of this must-see place located in one of those small streets you would probably not see on a quick visit.

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Sunday, February 1

Spanish Traditional Dance: The Jota

Jota dancers [enlarge]

One of the best known traditional dances in Spain is what is known as La Jota (the same name as letter J). It probably originated in the region of Aragon although there are different forms in other regions like Valencia, Castile, Navarra, etc. Dancers move in this peculiar way elevating their legs as if they were doing some kind of fouetté combined with waltz like movements. In the meantime, they play the castanets with arched elevated arms. Other members in the company sing popular songs and play typical string instruments like the bandurria. This is a very simple explanation but I guess you get the idea. I published some posts not long ago about jotas:

Baturricos Playing Bandurrias
Three Jota Singers from Aragon
Jota Dancer

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