Cine Nuevo

Cine Nuevo – Watercolor – 14 x 19 in.

The train ride from Madrid had been tiring. It was only my second visit to Spain and my first to Barcelona. It was nearly night when I checked into the hotel, so I paid little attention to the neighborhood, just collapsed into bed. But in the morning when I opened the curtains and saw these ruins across the street, it felt like the opening of a new day into what a future might become.

Creating images involves a lot of paying attention. You have to draw proportions of cars and people in relation to buildings, and also angles of light and shadow. Everything changes quickly. The man in the bottom left corner consulting the Metro schedule will either descend the steps into the subway or walk out of the picture. Someone will get into one of the cars and drive away; someone else will park another car. Meanwhile the sun rises higher, a family of five on their way home from Mass will appear. Then a bus or two, and a taxi on its way to the airport.

So the next mornings you open the curtains and continue to work. Gradually the thought occurs that you’re not simply painting light and colors, but layers of Time: The tattered posters advertise a concert that happens next week, or maybe it happened a week ago? The day you are painting, today, will in a few hours become another day, tomorrow. The Cine Nuevo is only a husk of what it had been. Behind it, the Teatro Nuevo, built in 1901 and rebuilt in 1922, is a relic skeleton of even earlier eras. (Only later you peel yet another layer: Both theaters burned to the ground in 1988.)

Over many years, through paintings like this, I created a future life on the other side of the world. In a week I’ll return to that home again. So until November, the next posts will come to you from Spain, adding, I hope, even more layers.

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