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Art exhibition in Seville: Jardines del Alcázar

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Art exhibition in Seville: Jardines del Alcázar.

Art exhibition in Seville: Jardines del Alcázar

One of Seville’s most celebrated and loved monuments is the Alcázar, or Royal Palace. If you’ve ever visited, you’ll know that its gardens are heavenly.


Designed to walk around and enjoy, rather than simply to admire, they are dotted with little paths bordered by plants, fountains and tiled seats. You can find plenty of shady spots to sit down and read a book, or just be; scented with herbs and fragrant blooms, they are a wonderfully calming place.


Separate walled areas, patios essentially, were designed for privacy, or perhaps secret assignations; on a practical level, the many pools fed by channels of trickling water provide a cooling effect, a much-needed balm in sweltering southern Spanish summers - a welcome legacy from the Moors, who also revelled in the aesthetic delight of reflections.  And with ttheir myriad flora – more than 180 species – the gardens are heaven for horticulturalists: you can spot tall, elegant palm trees, citrus, fig, almond, agapanthus, jacaranda and many more.


Thanks to all these delightful elements, the gardens are an alluring subject for paintings – indeed, they were a favourite of Sorolla, the Spanish impressionist painter whose work was celebrated in the highly successful exhibition “Spanish Master of Light” at the National Gallery in London this year.


So when an invitation to a group exhibition of paintings of the Alcázar gardens popped up in my inbox last week, I knew it was a must-see.

The paintings are displayed in the arcade around the patio, which gives a feeling of space and light.
The paintings are displayed in the arcade around the patio, which gives a feeling of space and light.

The show is being held at the Fundación Valentín de Madariaga, a cultural and social foundation with gallery space which is housed in a delightful building near Parque María Luisa (close to the Casa de la Ciencias); it was originally designed as the USA Pavilion of the 1929 Expo. The foundation has an unusual central patio, asymmetrically shaped, surrounded by an arcaded portico which lends itself perfectly to displaying pictures.

Artist Jill Roland Gosselin with some of her paintings,
Artist Jill Roland Gosselin with some of her paintings,

Four artists, three Spanish and one English, are showing their interpretations of these gardens with their stunningly clear light so typical of Seville, which brings the trees, pools and vividly-coloured azulejos (ceramic tiles) into sharp focus.

Jill captures the tones and textures, from pools reflecting warm stone walls and trees, to the Grutesco Gallery seen in the distance.
Jill captures the tones and textures, from pools reflecting warm stone walls and trees, to the Grutesco Gallery seen in the distance.

The English painter, Jill Roland Gosselin, has captured beautifully the shapes and colours of the gardens; stone fountains, tall palm trees, rippled pools backed by a vivid blue sky. You can see definite shades of Sorolla in how she captures the luminous light. Jill has lived, and exhibited, in France, Indonesia and Madagascar.

Miguel Redondo's works are more impressionistic.
Miguel Redondo's works are more impressionistic.

The other painters are Pilar Diaz Paniagua, Ricardo de la Fuente and Miguel Redondo: the latter two show their work at the Plaza del Museo art market on Sundays. All the works share the same joyous feeling you get when walking through a magical garden on a sunny day. There are no human figures in most of them, or indeed animals, but they are strong, bright and life-affirming.

Javier has worked as a gardener at the Alcazar for nearly 20 years.
Javier has worked as a gardener at the Alcazar for nearly 20 years.

I was fascinated to meet Javier, one of the 20 gardeners who work hard to keep the gardens looking so beautiful. He has been tending the flora - borders, hedges, flowers, trees and more - for 19 years, and his favourite plant is the gingko biloba tree, which turns a spectacular shade of yellow in autumn. Javier admitted that sometimes he's so absorbed in his job, he forgets how awed visitors are by the gardens - taking friends and family around reminds him of their charms.


Javier's hot tip for visitors to the gardens is to download the Kleos app, which plays music to match the native country of each plant, for a full synesthetic experience.


Jardines del Alcazar is on at the Fundación Valentín Madariaga until 18 February 2020.   Opening hours: Monday to Friday 10-14 and 17-20- Weekends and holidays, 10-14.


 For more information about the exhibition, see here.

Blog published on 17 January 2020