IN PICS: Eight highlights from Madrid’s PhotoEspaña 2019

Set to display over 1,000 works of photography and visual art across Madrid, PhotoEspaña, the internationally distinguished festival, is back for its 21st year.

IN PICS: Eight highlights from Madrid's PhotoEspaña 2019
Credit: Elina Brotherus - Fill with own imagination (Snow). PHotoEspaña.

Exhibitions will be dispersed over numerous museums, exhibition halls, art centres and galleries throughout the city. An international selection of work, from a range of artists, will be showcased tackling a range of themes from the importance of unknown landscapes to the experiences of teenager girls in Cuba. Here are The Local’s top picks:

Diana Markosian – “Over the Rainbow Casa de América, June 5th- July 31th  

Credit: PHotoEspaña

Inspired by fantasy, this exhibition explores the transition from girl to woman in Cuba: the quinceañera. It addresses the spectacle of the tradition, with young girls depicted as princesses, playing with the themes of wealth and luxury and how young girls are presented with a fictitious ideal of what womanhood means.

READ ALSO: Madrid's best rooftop bars

Sema D’Acosta – “OFFLAND. An Ideal Place, at Least” Centro Cultural Galileo. June 7th – July 23rd

Credit: PHotoEspaña

This collection explores how unfamiliar places, whether they may be imaginary or physical, allow human beings to escape reality and discover our desires, whether they may be imaginary or physical. Students Emilio Pemjean and Allessia Rollo invite us to consider the stimulating effects of unknown places.

Leila Alaoui –“The Moroccans” Casa Árabe. June 6th – September 22nd

Credit: PHotoEspaña

Following the tragic death of Leila Alaoui during a terrorist attack in Ouagagdougou, 2016, Casa Árabe, in association with the Leila Alaoui Foundation, has assembled a series of 20 portraits from the photographer’s collection. The images were taken by Alaoui while she was searching for inspiration from her own heritage, visiting towns and communities in her home country of Morocco.

Elina Brotherus – “PLAYGROUND” Fernán Gómez Centro Cultural de la Villa. June 5th – July 21st

Credit: PHotoEspaña

The Finnish artist, Elina Brotherus, was inspired by the Fluxus movement to create this quirky collection. Brotherus images present a colourful, energetic and perhaps absurd interpretation of the 1960s movement, which emphasized the importance of process over product.

Donna Ferrato – “Holy” Círculo de Bellas Artes. July 5th – September 22nd

Credit: PHotoEspaña 

In a 50-year journey from the sexual revolution of the 1960s to today, Donna Ferrato’s collection of photographs exhibits women, and the female body, in all their glory as they fight for equality across all aspects of life. It is a radical display of prevalence under the strain of the patriarchy.

Off Festival and Fringe


Julio Jiménez Corral – “Faith” La Fresh Gallery, June 6th – July 12th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

This intriguing exhibition invites us to consider the type of ideas that are founded on faith, and what may have been if certain ideas were championed as much as others. In a selection of 35 abstract images of architectural buildings, “Faith” brings to light moments in time that have been forgotten.

Kaveh Kazemi – “Revolutionaries The First Decade” Centro Internacional De Fotografia Y Cine. May 31st – June 30th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

Taken from his book, “Revolutionaries The First Decade”, this powerful collection by Kaveh Kazemi offers a thought-provoking presentation of the first decade after the Islamic Revolution in Iran, 1979, which was followed by the launch of a campaign of oppression, including the imposition of the use of the veil for women.

Lou Campos –“Does It Move or Not?” My Name’s Lolita Art. June 6th – July 26th

Credit: PHotoEspaña

Playing on the Japanese words used to describe whether something is eternal or not, this curious exhibition is an exploration of the animate and the inanimate.

List compiled by Alice Huseyinoglu

READ MORE: Ten brilliantly fun things to do in Spain this June


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Following the Dalí trail around Spain’s Costa Brava

Catalonia-based travel writer Esme Fox embarks on a voyage into the mind of Salvador Dalí, visiting various locations and landmarks that the Spanish surrealist created or made his own around Spain's Costa Brava.

Following the Dalí trail around Spain's Costa Brava

Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí is perhaps one of Spain’s most famous and loved 20th-century artists. He is known for his quirky images of melting clocks, elephants with long spindly legs and the portraits of his wife, Gala.

Dalí was born in the town of Figueres in 1904, which is located in northern Catalonia, approximately 50km north of the city of Girona. This is the best place to begin your Dalí tour of the region.

Figueres Day 1  

Arriving in Figueres your first stop should be the Salvador Dalí Theatre-Museum, this is where some of the artist’s most important works are held. The museum was in fact created by Dalí himself when he was still alive and was inaugurated in 1974. It’s housed in an old theatre, hence the name. Everything in it was designed by Dalí to offer visitors a real experience and draw them into his world.

It’s eye-catching even from the outside – pink in colour and studded with yellow plaster croissants, and on the walls sit golden statues and his iconic large white eggs – a symbol which you’ll see repeated on your journey.

Salvador Dalí Theatre Museum in Figueres. Photo: Julia Casado / Pixabay

The museum is filled with 1,500 pieces including his sketches, paintings and sculptures. It also houses the remains of Dalí himself, down in the crypt, where you can pay your respects to the artist.

Next door to the museum is a permanent exhibition dedicated to the exquisite jewellery Dalí designed, which shouldn’t be missed. 

Afterward, you can go and see the house where Dalí was born at number 6 on Carrer Monturiol. It’s not currently an attraction, however there are renovation works underway to turn it into a new museum about the artist’s childhood. It was due to open in 2020, but there were significant delays because of the pandemic and it is still nowhere near finished.

Spend the night at the Hotel Duran, where Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala in fact lived while they were renovating the theatre. The hotel restaurant even has a special Dalí room, filled with images of Dalí and all his friends, as well as objects belonging to the artist.

Cadaqués Days 2 and 3

After a winding and hairpin turn journey west, you’ll find yourself at one of the eastern-most points in Spain – the town of Cadaqués. One of the most attractive towns on the Costa Brava, its white-washed buildings gleam against the cerulean blue bay and pink bougainvillea decorates its tiny interior cobbled streets.

In summer in particular, this place gets very busy, so make sure you’ve booked well in advance for your accommodation.

Dalí loved this area in summer too and built his summer house in the tiny neighbouring village of Portlligat. The house is now a museum, but as it’s quite small, booking tickets several weeks or even months ahead of time is essential.

Dalí’s house in Portlligat. Photo: Esme Fox

Dalí designed the house himself, which was created from several fisherman’s cottages joined together and is topped with his iconic white eggs.

Inside, you’ll see the artist’s studio, where many of his most famous works were created, including two unfinished pieces which still sit on the easels. You can also see Dalí and Gala’s bedroom where they kept canaries to wake them up in the morning and crickets to send them off to sleep at night. There’s also an angled mirror ready to catch the sun, ensuring that Dalí was one of the first people in the whole of Spain to see the sunrise each morning.

The highlight of the visit however is the vast garden, which even features a replica of the lion fountain in Granada’s Alhambra palace as well as his famous sofa in the shape of a pair of pink lips. The views from the top part of his garden above the olive grove are so stunning that it’s no wonder Dalí was inspired by the landscapes here.

There’s a replica of Alhambra’s lion fountain in Dalí’s garden. Photo: Esme Fox

On your second day in Cadaqués, head north to Paratge de Tudela located in the Cap de Creus Natural Park. You’ll need a car or taxi to get here. Here, you can hike among the very same landscape that Dalí painted in some of his most celebrated works. Look carefully or take a tour to see the same rock formations featured in his paintings.

For dinner, book a table at El Barroco, a traditional Lebanese restaurant and one of Dalí’s favourites when he lived there. He ate there at least twice a week in summer and it’s said that whenever he had famous guests he would meet them there instead of inviting them into his home. Dalí’s face adorns the door and inside it’s just as surreal with colourful plants, quirky statues and mirrors hanging in the courtyard. And inside it’s like a museum itself, filled with glass cases of bizarre objects and old musical instruments. There are even some photos of Dalí and Gala.

Book a table at El Barroco in Cadaqués. Photo: Esme Fox

Day 4

Make your way 60km south of Cadaques to the tiny charming villages of inland Costa Brava and specifically the village of Púbol. It’s here that Dalí bought an old castle in 1969 and renovated it from 1982 to 1984 for his wife Gala to live in.

Although the castle dates back to the 12th century, Dalí modernised it and added his creative and whimsical touches. It was a kind of love letter to his wife.

Dalí said of the castle: “Everything celebrates the cult of Gala, even the round room, with its perfect echo that crowns the building as a whole and which is like a dome of this Galactic cathedral… I needed to offer Gala a case more solemnly worthy of our love. That is why I gave her a mansion built on the remains of a 12th-century castle: the old castle of Púbol in La Bisbal, where she would reign like an absolute sovereign, right up to the point that I could visit her only by hand-written invitation from her. I limited myself to the pleasure of decorating her ceilings so that when she raised her eyes, she would always find me in her sky”.

Visit Gala’s castle in Púbol. Photo: Enric / WikiCommons

When Gala died in 1982, the castle became her mausoleum and she is still buried there today.

The castle is now a museum where you can tour each of the grand rooms, serene gardens, as well as spot Dalí’s whacky touches. Gala for example asked Dalí to cover up the radiators because she didn’t like to look at them, so as a joke, Dalí covered them with paintings of yet more radiators. 

Day four completes your Dalí trail around the Costa Brava. Go ahead and immerse yourself in the whimsical world of Dalí.