With most of my friends cramming as much of Paris into their remaining hours in the city as possible, I chose, instead, to skip all of that by heading to the Beauvais (BVA) airport to catch a flight to Barcelona this past weekend to visit my friend Levon, who is currently studying abroad there. I last visited Barcelona two years ago with friends, but there still remained lot of the city left unexplored. Unfortunately, I knew that my explorations would be cut rather short, what with me having booked my flight to depart a little less than 48 hours after landing, since I had the intention of seeing some friends before they flew back to North America.
Given that Levon had school, I decided to take my one full day in Barcelona to explore Montjuïc, the broad shallow hill located to the southwest of the city centre. The hill covers a lot of land, and because of that, offers many sights and attractions. But since there was an automobile exposition, there was no straight path to the hill. So I wound up first wandering from Montjuïc, and thus ended up taking a break at a nearby bar for a quick lunch. Once I finally myself on the correct pathway (I like to think that the escalators rising upward were a good sign), running into sight after sight wasn’t difficult.
On my way back from the Castell de Montjuïc (I cheated a little, and took the funicular there and back for 9,60€, so I didn’t walk the full length of the hill), I noticed that the MNAC (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya) was having a special exhibit on Courbet and realism art. Two years ago, I took what I consider to be one of my most interesting classes, “Paris through its Museums and Monuments” with Catherine Clot, and I can recall the major themes, styles, and artists that we discussed – and yes, Courbet was one of them. So I thought it would be the “right thing” to pay the exhibit a visit.
For students under the age of 26, entry to the museum, including its temporary exhibit, cost 5,95€ (and it is good for two visits in the same month). The set-up of this particular museum is one that is very open in terms of space. The pamphlet offers a bit of a “scavenger hunt” since it lists its most famous works (35 of them, to be exact), and its location in the museum sans room number. With regards to the Courbet and realism exhibit, it was one that was incredibly well done. Several other artists were featured, such as Ramon Martí Alsina, Simó Gómez, and Antoni Caba. Separated into five currents, the exhibit titled each section – mirrors (self-portrait), presence (portraits of others), living art (i.e. with lifestyle context), transgression (of the nude), and realism (which featured a projection of Courbet’s “L’origine du monde“).
Art and culture aside, I did take the time in the evening to experience some of Barcelona’s nightlife and tasty food. Since Levon was back from school, we headed out at 21h30 for some basque-style tapas at Maitea Taberna, which offers a wide selection of pintxos for 1,50€ each. After filling our stomachs with a variety of tapas, we headed on over to SUMMUM for an extensive tasting of their famed 1€ shots (they’re pretty much like mini cocktails). It turns out that milk with liquor alone can actually taste quite nice. Afterwards, we stopped by Espit Chupitos to marvel at their large menu, scrawled on a chalkboard, and flame-lit drinks. The night concluded itself with a quick trip to Xurreria Trebol for churros served with a cup of dipping chocolate.
08036 Barcelona, Spain
Tel: +34 93 439 51 07
08011 Barcelona, Spain
Tel: +34 93 323 46 27
08011 Barcelona, Spain
08037 Barcelona, Spain
Upon returning from the airport and a brief trip to the local Monoprix, I looked up the list of participating museums for La nuit des musées while trying to get in contact with some friends. Since the latter didn’t quite happen, I opted to make one and only one stop – the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris.
The current exhibit highlights the work of Winnipeg artist Diana Thorneycroft and her “Group of Seven Awkward Moments” series. With this series, Thorneycroft sought to make use of some of the Group of Seven paintings as backdrops to her scene of disaster/accident with Canadian cultural icons, such as Tim Horton and Bobby Orr. Also on display was an older series of hers, “The Canadiana Martyrdom Series,” which pokes fun at a variety of Canadian celebrities, including Céline Dion and Don Cherry. While the exhibit is funny on its own (and since there are explanations alongside the art), I like to believe that I enjoy it so much more because of having lived in the context of identifying with and learning about our cultural icons. This exhibit runs until September 9th, 2011.
Centre Culturel Canadien
5 rue Constantine
Open Mondays to Friday from 10h00 to 18h00, and until 19h00 on Thursdays