A beautiful few days in Madrid

I was in Madrid in September to examine a European PhD. The thesis, written in English by a Spanish student and examined in both Spanish and English, explored Paul Auster’s work through Blanchot’s concept of the space of literature. It was a fantastic piece of work and fully deserved the plaudits of the examining committee.

Madrid is a beautiful and relaxed city and while there we had to take the chance to visit the galleries and enjoy some fantastic meals out. We dined at Casa Labra just behind Puerta del Sol and, apparanetly, Lorca’s local. The tapas there is fantastic. I spent a few hours at the El Greco exhibition in the Prado, which traces the influence of El Greco on the Impressionists, surrealists and abstract expressionist of the 20th century. Every painting in this exhibition left me breathless and the overall experience is, quite frankly, overwhelming. The influence of paintings such as The Vision of St John on, for example, Matisse is arresting.

We also spent an amazing hour or more in the presence of Picasso’s Guernica at the Sofia. Just being in the same room as a piece of art as important as Guernica is a profound experience, and I recommend it to anyone who gets the chance.

We popped into the Thyssen as an after-thought and stayed until it closed. We focused mainly on the 20th/21st century and saw some inspiring pieces from the Impressionists, from Hopper, Dali and Bacon.

Sunday morning, before flying home, was spent in Parque del Retiro, where Madridians go to relax, busk, practice cheer-leading, boat, eat and generally be very, very cool.

Back to work for a rest after all that!