Spoke yesterday at IESE, the Madrid-based business school. An annual event for their 50,000-strong alumni network, this time focusing on sustainability. Some time since I have been to their campus and was impressed by their new complex of buildings, in which the event was housed. Met some great people who I plan to follow up with.
Then today I went walkabout in Madrid. Among the places I visited were CentroCentro (whose exhibitions I found somewhat muddy and disappointing), the Prado Museum (whose collection blew me away) and the Sorolla Museum (ditto).
Looking at the Prado exhibits through the eyes of Asian visitors I was following around at one point, it struck just how much of a death cult Catholicism has been, with assorted martyrdoms including everything from crucifixions, to arrows and rocks.
Pieter Bruegel’s The Triumph of Death was a painful reminder of just how brutish life could be in medieval times. And Goya’s execution images and Black Paintings rubbed the point in for recently modern times.
The religious painter whose work has always leaped out for me – and did so again today – is El Greco. Weird, extruded, exquisite. Plus I liked Flevit Super Ilam by Enrique Simonet Lobado. Plus some of the royal portraits, amid all the assorted thuggery and ugliness, were striking – including the Velasquez renderings of Philippe III and Felipe IV.
But there were real delights in the midst of it all, too, including several Sorolla paintings, with Boys on a Beach particularly eye-catching. I was so taken by them that, having turned away from a long queue outside the Sorolla Museum in the morning (it is only 7 minutes from my hotel), I went back there – to find no queue at all around 16.00, and entry free.
A really joyous place with a stunning collection of his paintings, including the bathing horse and women walking on a beach.