Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo – Centre of Contemporary Andalucian Art
by Fiona Flores Watson
The Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo is housed in the magnificent 15th-century Monasterio Santa Maria de las Cuevas. Known as La Cartuja, this is located in the district of the same name, north of Triana and across the river from the city centre – look for the iconic, cone-shaped towers.
Columbus stayed here at the Carthusian monastery before his voyages. Subsequently it was used as a ceramic factory, under the La Cartuja brand, which still exists to this day. You’ll see those tall, cone-shaped chimneys of the kilns, visible from a distance. For more details on the history of the site, see our paage on La Cartuja.
The latest chapter in the La Cartuja monastery’s centuries-long history started in the early 1990s, when the complex of buildings was restored and used as the headquarters for the Exposicion Universal (Universal Exhibition) of 1992, known as Expo 92.In 1997 it became the seat of CAAC.
CAAC collection and exhibitions
CAAC’s permanent collection is mostly mid to late 20th-century Andalucian artists such as Seville’s own Luis Gordillo, Federico Guzman, Equipo 57, and MP&MP Rosado, as well as a print by Federico Garcia Lorca. Non-Spanish artists include Nan Goldin, Bill Viola and Wolfgang Tillmans.
The collection includes sculpture and installations outside in the garden and grounds, as well as paintings, photographs, prints and videos, while temporary exhibitions – usually three at any given time - offer a variety of artworks, multi-media and performance art from Spanish and international artists. Possibly the most high profile show here was by Ai Wei Wei, whose exhibition was held back in 2013.
The exhibitions are held in various spaces around the complex including the church, chapels, cloisters, sacristy and refectory.< /p>
Some permanent pieces are installed interactively within buildings – a head or arm sticking out of a window, or an installation resembling a bus stop where you can sit down.
A few pieces are left over from BIACS, a short-lived art biennal which only saw three editions, 2004, 2006 and 2008, before the economic crisis hit. Check out the mudejar torrejon (tower) in the gardens, with beaded curtains by Olaf Nicolai in its arches which swish in the breeze, making a gentle rustling, tinkling sound.
Other activities, events and facilities
As well as the art exhibits, you can also watch open-air concerts in the grounds of La Cartuja, such as the Soulville Black Music Festival, midweek jazz jam sessions and DJ sets at weekends.
Look out for the colourful tiles left over from La Cartuja ceramics factory in two recesses between the chapel and the Puerta del Rio entrance, and also on the arched gate itself, the entrance to La Cartuja tile factory (look out for the name) at the Camino de los Descubrimientos entrance.
You can walk around the gardens, including a beautiful walled area with fruit trees, and the tower (see above). There is a café with an attractive outdoor seating area.
It’s a lovely place to come for a change of pace, especially with children, as it is seldom crowded – tourists don’t tend to venture this far from the historic centre - so there’s plenty of space for everyone, from the magnificent chapels to the shady gardens, perfumed with lavender plants.
How to get there
The monastery is reached by the Pasarela de la Cartuja bridge from the Paseo de Rey Juan Carlos I, which runs along the river next to Avenida Torneo, around the level of Calle Baños. There are two entrances: on Camino de Los Descubrimientos by the river, through the pretty tiled Puerta del Rio entrance, which takes you past the chimneys and factory buildings; or alternatively from the other side, on Calle Americo Vespucio, through the grand archway.
Cartuja de Santa María de Las Cuevas
Camino de los Descubrimientos, s/n
Entrances: Avda. Américo Vespucio and Camino de los Descubrimientos.
Tel: 955 03 70 70
Tuesday to Saturday: 11.00 - 21.00
Sunday and holidays: 11.00 – 15.30
Visit to the building and temporary exhibitions: 1.80 euros
Complete visit: 3.01€
[Ticket sold up to half an hour before closing time]
Annual Pass: 12.02€
Tuesday to Friday: 19.00 – 21.00
Saturday: 11.00 – 21.00
Next to the Camino de los Descubrimientos entrance, which is by the Pasarela de la Cartuja Bridge, or in the Torre Sevilla underground car park, which offers free parking for a limited time.