Figures in the park

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“The sculpture that impresses me is never perfectly symmetrical: it is strong and vital, giving off something of the energy and power of great mountains. And it has a life of its own, regardless of the object it represents.” Henry Moore

This week I visited the collection of sculptures on permanent display at Juan Carlos I Park, Madrid. Some of the pieces have been there since 1992; for passersby, rushing along immersed in their thoughts, these works don’t attract too much attention. Perhaps because they form part of the landscape, the day to day. However, if we visit calmly and pause to listen, then they take on a whole new life. They speak to us, offering the chance to encounter in them something we didn’t even realise we were looking for.

Sculpture is an art form which needs the open air, the light. Sculpture enriches the surroundings and is enriched by them. Outdoors, sculpture is transformed, reflecting the hours of the day and the seasons of the year.

Manolona Opus 397

I stopped to observe Manolona Opus 397 (a sculpture by Miguel Ortiz Berrocal, 1933-2006), which seems to float over the park, poised above a maze-like garden.

Its knots, curves and undulations recall a dance of the muses. Could the sinuous female forms of this piece provide a secret passageway to other worlds and dimensions?

Waiting for a reply, I sat back to observe the changing shades and tones as the hours passed. In a suggestive ripple of white roundness, the piece seemed to come alive. Does it matter what it is? What’s important is the astonishment caused by my presence.

Fisicromía para Madrid

Something unexpected is in store, something static yet at the same time in movement. Vibrating above my head I find a sculpture by Carlos Eduardo Cruz-Díez (1923-2019). A floating, wave-like wall whose chromatic discourse changes as I approach or move away. The piece is in continuous transformation, vibrating and expanding, first dark then light, gradually revealing its magical scale of colours.

Its physical form, like a whip, cuts into its surroundings seeking the reciprocal attention that keeps this piece alive. I’m invaded by its dynamism, its rhythm is contagious: orange, green, white and blue, black, white, orange, blue… White.

Routes of a thousand planets

On an area of high ground in the park, Amadeo Gabino (1922-2004) created a sculpture in tribute to Galileo Galilei. Two large pieces of corten steel speak of gravity while at the same time drawing concentric lines stretching out into the cosmos, perhaps in search of new planets to discover.

There are 19 sculptures in the park. One of them, gates to return to the Garden of Eden; another, a sphere of polished metal to reflect the sky. As we gaze inside, we appear to melt into the vastness of blue. Other sculptures I came across seem like strange beings, inhabitants of the lake made up of remnants of metal humanoids…

All of them are there, ready to be observed, in the city and within easy reach. They wait to be discovered and explored, to come alive once more under the visitor’s gaze.

Location: Juan Carlos I Park Sculpture Route.

Photography: Oscar Rivilla

Tasrnlation: Rebekah Jane Rhodes

Music: Dr Symptosizer

Art direction: Oscar Rivilla & Carolina Verd

Styling colaboration: Carolina Omaña


Main picture and Picture 2: white pleated skirt, white collar sweater and white raincoat by Liu Jo courtesy of Finally. Nolita white sneakers by The Hoff Brand.

Picture 3: striped dress by Desigual; striped feathers coat by Psophía; boots by Mango courtesy of Finally.

Picture 4 and 5: animal print short jumpsuit, animal print jumpe and boots by Liu Jo courtesy of Finally.