13 February 2012

An art attack!

After I recovered from my initial attack of culture shock at the motorways and new cars, the shopping malls and plate-glass windows, the high-rise apartment blocks and hot running water coming out of the tap, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most here in Medellin, Colombia, is the art.

The city centre, in particular, is full of amazing sculptures. My favourites are the 23 voluminous bronze figures by Colombia’s famous artist, Ferdinand Botero, which are displayed in their own plaza, and a very large section in the Museum of Antiochia, which fronts on to the plaza, is also devoted to Botero’s chubby works. There I discovered Botero’s paintings, which depict equally voluminous people, animals and still lifes. There’s even a chubby Jesus!

In the area around Medellin’s administrative centre, there are several more amazing sculptures. There’s the 38-metre-tall Monument a la Raza, a monument to the people of this region and their struggles against adversity. The lower right part resembles a Greek temple pediment but then the left side soars majestically up into the sky, so that, when photographed from a certain angle, its figures appear to reach out and touch the nearby skyscraper.

Monument a la Raza
The figure work is amazing!

Though this monument is spectacular, I prefer the small bronze figures of local people, by Olga Inés Arango, in the adjoining square in front of the council building. The shoeshine man has an incredibly lifelike face, as has the old woman saleswoman, and the newspaper seller has been caught in mid-voice, yelling out the latest headlines.

The saleswoman ...
and the shoeshine man

and the newspaper seller

Across from the administrative centre is the impressive Plaza Cisneros, with its artificial forest of around 300 light poles, some up to 24 metres tall, which is impressive during the day but must be even more so when lit up at night. The concrete poles are interspersed with stands of tall bamboo, emphasising the idea of an urban forest.

Today I discovered the Madre Monte, the mythical mother nature sculpted by José Horacio Betancur, in the botanical garden. And, after a quick google search, I know that Medellin has so many more amazing sculptures that I haven’t had time to see.

And then there’s the street art ... graffiti on the concrete walls bordering the motorways, images of human figures and huge flower murals adorning the sides of buildings, shops advertising what they sell by painting whole walls with images of their products.

Exploring Medellin has been a totally unexpected visual feast of colour and artistic imagination! I just wish I had time to see more.

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