On separate corners

photo: Francisco Manuel Ibáñez / NATALIA ARAUJO

Leer este artículo en ESPAÑOL / PDF of this magazine


THE WHISTLES, PLASTIC HORNS AND AIR HORNS are deceptively loud; their incessant sounding can be heard 150 meters away, overloading your auditory senses as you near the Plaza del Museo on this particular Sunday morning. Outside the entrance to the Fine Arts Museum, its public workers circle around with noisemakers, joined by a little girl with a bright pink ribbon holding up her hair, blowing a red toy trumpet. They’re demonstrating against the new opening-hours schedule proposed by the City Council and have left their posts for half an hour.

MEANWHILE, ORANGE BLOSSOMS THROUGHOUT the plaza emit a pleasant perfume contrasting with the grating sounds. A woman sitting under the trees, about 10 meters from the protest, covers her ears with lime-green headphones, but her hunched posture, rigid arms, and slight grimace show that the headphones are not blocking out the sound as intended. All the people passing through the plaza give the protesters a wide berth, why is she sitting so close by?

THAT IS PAOLA VECCHI, and she’s no stranger to the Plaza del Museo. She was there, in that same spot, only two weeks before, when the sun was out, the temperature hit 77oF (25oC) and the line to get into the Museo reached the middle of the plaza. Paola is one of many artists who bring their work every Sunday to this art market. The artists come from all different walks of life, some having studied the arts, others having picked up the passion later in life, and those who had left art behind only to come back to it.

FRANCISCO MANUEL IBÁÑEZ stands on the southwest corner of the plaza. Next to him, a painting of a woman’s face in cool colors sits, reaching up almost to his shoulders. Smaller works are on a table across from him. These paintings represent a lifetime of commitment. “I started to draw when I was four or five. My mother was a baker, and while she was working, I was there, sitting on the floor, drawing.”

SINCE THEN, FRANCISCO MANUEL has studied art and attempted to make a life off of it. “I’m in my studio five days a week, working, painting. I enjoy coming here and talking with people. They come from all over the world. So, I have paintings in England, France, Germany, the United States and Australia,” he states. Along with Francisco’s art, travelling to different countries, some of the art itself is also international. “Underneath the paint of these works are Chinese newspapers. When a friend went to England, I asked him to bring me back some.” The texture of the Chinese characters beneath the skin of the women draws you straight into their expression and pushes you to consider what lies beneath Francisco’s form of expression.

HE HAS INSPIRATION coming from halfway around the world, in Latin America. Small sheets of paper in Ziploc bags lay on a table. A swirl of brightly colored lines come together to form a tapir. “I am very interested in Pre-Colombian art, the style of the Incas… Aztecs with their geometric forms,” says Manuel. A second look at the tapir shows that the curving lines have been formed out of small triangles, rectangles, and circles. He has drawn from other cultures, creating something that stands apart from the seascapes, bulls, and flamenco dancers around him.

ON THE OTHER END OF THE PLAZA, a woman throws up her red shawl, the top corner of it breaking off into the yellow, watercolor background. The ruffles of her dress sweep the ground; there is a passion for flamenco caught in a still moment.

IN A FOLDING CHAIR NEARBY sits the artist Emilio Pastor, enjoying the sights of the people filling the plaza. Unlike Francisco, Emilio has never formally studied art. “I started to paint when I was ten. For my first painting, I went to the rooftop of my building and painted what I could see from there,” Emilio explains. He was born, grew up, and still lives in Seville, and his love for the city has not diminished since that first painting of his own part of it.

EMILIO DID NOT GROW UP TO STUDY ART. Instead, he became a fishmonger, supporting his wife and two sons. One of them now lives in Switzerland, but the thought of leaving Seville does not seem to have ever entered Emilio’s mind. “The sky isn’t a single color, there are various blues. Here in Seville the sky is aquamarine but closer to the horizon it isn’t the same. It’s a light blue.” Emilio can continue to go on about the colors used in his paintings, speaking about them as if they were his children. But colors aren’t the only indication of inspiration.

“THIS PAINTING COMES FROM a photo that sold for thousands of euros. Maybe I’ll be able to sell mine for 20,” says Emilio. But the price of the photo is not the driving factor for most of his paintings. The three large format paintings are of flamenco dancers. “Look at her with such an elegant posture, just so,” Emilio draws back his arms and arcs his back, mimicking the powerful stance of the dancer. His passion for art itself shines through his eye although he only just returned to it in his retirement.

FRANCISCO IS THE ARTIST WHO looks out to the entire world to find his voice: Chinese newspapers and Inca art. Emilio focuses on his city and his country, but both come together, albeit on different corners, each Sunday on the Plaza del Museo as the people pass by, the city lives and breathes, and the artists talk and connect with those who bother to take a look.