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IN PICS: Ancient Greece-inspired erotic art sparks debate in Valencia

Explicitly erotic sculptures inspired by ancient Greek ceramic art are making waves at a marina in the Spanish city of Valencia.

IN PICS: Ancient Greece-inspired erotic art sparks debate in Valencia

By local artist Antoni Miro, the steel figures provide a foretaste of an upcoming exhibition of his at a cultural centre opening soon nearby, said a spokeswoman for the consortium that manages the space.

But for some, such explicit art should not be displayed in a place that is frequented by families with small children.   

“The exhibition in the street of these figures that depict blow jobs, masturbation, exposed genitals… with highly explicit sexual content” could violate the law for the protection of minors, the conservative Family Forum association said in a statement.

The images confront children without any prior warning and “are inappropriate for their age”, it said.

Miro told AFP he had made the sculptures in 2007 based on scenes that figured on ceramics the ancient Greeks used daily some 2,500 years ago.   

It's a “re-encounter with our roots,” he said in an emailed response to questions.

“It must be seen with normality, it's an act of love.”   

Asked whether the public outdoor space was appropriate, he said the sculptures belonged there “in front of the Mediterranean sea looking towards Greece, the cradle of culture.”

 

All photos by Jose Jordan / AFP

 

ART

Paul Gauguin’s ‘Mata Mua’ returns to Spain

One of French painter Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, "Mata Mua", will return to a Madrid museum on Monday following an agreement between the Spanish government and its owner, who took it out of the country.

mata mua madrid
Toward the end of his life, Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, where he completed some of his most famous artwork Painting: Paul Gaugin

The artwork had been on display for two decades at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum but in 2020 when the institution closed because of the pandemic, the painting’s owner Carmen Thyssen moved it to Andorra where she currently lives.

Her decision to take “Mata Mua” to the microstate sandwiched between Spain and France raised fears she would remove other works from her collection which are on display at the museum.

“It is expected that the painting will arrive today,” a spokeswoman for the museum told AFP.

mata-mua_gauguin-madrid

In 1989, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought Mata Mua at the Sotheby’s auction in New York. Painting: Paul Gauguin

The artwork will go back on display to the public “a few days after” Thyssen signs a new agreement with the Spanish state for the lease of her collection, she added. The deal is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

Painted in 1892 in vivid, flat colours, “Mata Mua” depicts two women, one playing the flute and the other listening, set against a lush Tahitian landscape.

It is one of the stars of Thyssen’s collection of several hundred paintings which are on show at the museum, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Her collection had initially been displayed at the Madrid museum as part of a free loan agreement signed in February 2002 that was subsequently extended.

But in August 2021 Spain’s culture ministry announced it had reached an agreement with Thyssen to rent the collection from her for 15 years for €97.5 million ($111.5 million), with “preferential acquisition rights on all or part” of the works. The collection includes a Degas, a Hopper and a Monet.

Aside from housing her collection of works, the museum displays the collection of her late husband, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss heir to a powerful industrial lineage who died in Spain in 2002.

The Spanish state bought his collection in 1993 from $350 million, according to the museum.

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