Friday, 15 February 2008

Public Art in Vilanova

Public art is an interesting phenomenon. Since it is usually paid for through public funds, you could expect it to exist for the common good, but in Catalonia as in Sweden it is often criticised for being elitist and overly abstract.

For those interested in public art, I can not claim that Vilanova has much to offer. On the other hand, for us who live here, it is nice to learn more about what we pass by everyday. Today, I had the opportunity to join my oldest son’s school class for an art walk through the town.

The statue over José Tomás Ventosa at Plaça de la Vila, is above all a monument over a famous local personality. But since it is made of three easily identifiable materials - marble, sand stone and copper - it served well to open up a discussion on art techniques.

The monument over vilanovins who died in Nazi concentration camps worked well with the children, since you can ask them what they think it is rather than to have to give a correct answer. I really like it, but would want to see it moved to one of Vilanova’s many roundabouts. Its current position in the Plaça de la Peixateria, next to the entry of an underground parking lot, does not do it justice.

“A fishing net” was how one of the pupils described the symbolic gate which has been erected close to what once used to be the town’s northern limits. As I see it, it harmonizes very well with the rest of the Plaça de les Casernes, where it stands.

Since public art risks being questioned, it is worth mentioning that the angel of the Sant Antoni Abat church, was put back only recently by general request. Its predecessor was lost when communists destroyed the church during the Civil War. I do not consider it especially artistic, but agree that an angel which points out where the wind comes from is a correct decoration on top of the highest building in a traditional fishermen’s town.

The torn bodies of “Home i Dona” (Man and Woman) in the Plaça del Mercat make a sad impression on me. Having said that, many of the buildings which surround it are terrible eye sores. Therefore, I am still content to have some quality art to rest my eyes on.

My personal Vilanova art favourite is Pasífae. This bull statue was too far away for our excursion today, but I plan to come back to it in a later entry. The beach Ribes Roges, where it stands, will only gain in attraction as it gets warmer.

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