Bombas Gens Centre d’Art opens all its venues coinciding with the opening of two new exhibitions of the Per Amor a l’Art collection. The first one, “The Pulse of the Body. Uses and Representations of Space” includes artworks by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Helen Levitt, Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, David Goldblatt, Luigi Ghirri, Victoria Civera, Elger Esser, Xavier Ribas, Francesca Woodman, and Matt Mullican, among others. “It is a critical reflection about how we inhabit contemporary spaces. By highlighting various artists’ works, the exhibition reflects on how we relate to each other, how we occupy and use the streets and leisure, work and consume areas; while at the same time, it presents a journey into the history of the twentieth-century photography”, explained the Director of the Art Centre, Nuria Enguita, in the press conference this morning.
The other exhibition presented today, “Out of the Darkness”, includes one hundred photographs by the great documentary photographer and a pioneer in the use of colour, Joel Meyerowitz (New York, 1938), taken during his stay in Spain in the 1960s: an unseen body of work featuring a country in transformation. “It was my first trip out of the United States, and it was also the first time I worked on my own, as a photographer. Looking at the pictures now, I realize that there was no happiness in those streets back then, people were trapped in the everyday. These photographs did not show sadness but rather, somehow, a lack of happiness. I am under the impression that it was the response I gave, from my youth, to the atmosphere created by the dictatorship, and that permeated the lives of everybody”, recounted Meyerowitz.
In addition to these two exhibitions, from now on the audience will be able to enjoy the rest of the architectural elements at Bombas Gens Centre d’Art. As stated by the Director of the Per Amor a l’Art foundation, Susana Lloret: “The art centre expands its exhibition space into the environment: the garden, and even the Marxalenes park, are now open to visitors. The garden is surrounded by magic sounds and the reflexion of the water of Cristina Iglesias’s work, by the light and colour of our privileged nature, and by the medieval history of the cellar we have brought back along with other ruins from the same period located in the Marxalenes park, a few minutes from Bombas Gens”.
In this regard, this 1,147 m2 space located in the backyard of the old factory, counts with an important sculptural site-specific work by Cristina Iglesias, titled “A Través” (Across), now part of Per Amor a l’Art collection. “In fact, it is the third piece by the artist to enter the collection in line with the philosophy of ‘artists first’, which supports the purchase of more than one artwork per artist in order to be able to display their work more broadly”, explained Vicente Todolí, Artistic Director at FPAA.
The intervention comprises two ditches of 14 and 11 m2 forming a curve inspired by the Túria riverbank. Each ditch includes several layers of cast bronze low reliefs whose overlapped views show an abstract interior with elements resembling roots and the bottom of the river. Two benches made out of stones recovered from the restoration of the building accompany the ditches.
In relation to what inspired this work, it has been Cristina Iglesias herself who said that: “In order to create this artwork I studied the Túria riverbank and the 1957 floods, as well as the irrigation-crop layouts; exploring the relationship that water has had throughout the centuries with the area where Bombas Gens is located”.
The other garden’s gem is being hidden underground since the fifteenth century. It is a 39 m2 cellar that was part of an old and already disappeared “alquería” (farmhouse) that was discovered during the restoration work, which transformed the old Bombas Gens factory into the current art centre.
“It is a spacious vaulted room that was fortunately found complete, and that is accessible from a brick staircase. Once in the room, we find elements typical of wine storage such as benches along the wall to lay the barrels and earthenware jars, and a small pond to collect the must from the grape-treading basins – one of which has been preserved”, explained archaeologist Paloma Berrocal.
A room designed by Ramón Esteve Arquitectura y Diseño will protect archaeological findings and exhibit ceramic pieces and tiles recovered during the excavation process, enhancing the value of this world-class heritage site.
Both the cellar and the sculptural work by Cristina Iglesias will be accessible to the public via guided visit. Visitors will be able to enjoy both elements integrated in a space that inherits a modernist tradition and creates a lush and colourful garden.
The design, signed by landscapist Gustavo Marina, responds to a dense layer that overheads a series of vegetable compositions of more than 100 different species, which have been mixed up in order to generate a naturalised environment.
It includes citrus fruits and pomegranate trees — recalling the vegetable garden that was once — palm trees and a jacaranda, alluding to what was inside Doctor Trigo’s factory commonly known among the neighbours as “l’arbre” (the tree). Species of great interest such as Lagerstroemia indica or an exceptional Camellia Sasanqua can be seen as well.
The garden recalls the period when Bombas Gens was built, and recovers the spirit of the place enhancing the value of the factory’s back façade and the rodeno stones used as pavement.