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Spain laughs (and groans) at yet another botched art restoration

Oops. Spain did it again.

Spain laughs (and groans) at yet another botched art restoration
Before and after photos taken by Antonio Guzman Capel.

The attempted repair of a statue on the façade of an historic building in the Spanish city of Palencia has been mocked for its “cartoon like appearance” in the latest case of Spanish art restoration gone wrong.  

The new restoration disaster is making headlines in Spain after it emerged that a weathered sculpture on the one of the city’s most emblematic buildings had undergone a revamp that didn’t exactly turn out as it should.

'It's more like a cartoon head than the artistic head of one of Palencia's most emblematic buildings,' outraged local painter Antonio Guzman Capel wrote in a Facebook with before and after shots of the statue.


Photo of the botched restoration taken by artist Antonio Guzman Capel. 

One social media user compared the new sculpture to 'sand sculptures kids do on the beach,' while another quipped that “it looked like a plasticine model made in kindergarden”.

The statue was reportedly replaced during restoration work on the listed building which dates from 1919 and now houses a Unicaja bank.

It is unclear who is responsible for the “restoration” which is labeled a “chapuza” in Spanish. 

It has been dubbed the new Ecce Homo, in reference to the now infamous attempts by Cecilia Giménez, who in 2012 at the age of 82 decided to touch-up a painting in her local chapel.

 

The orginal work by Elias Garcia had deteriorated before the botched restoration Photo: AFP

The disastrous repair made headlines across the world, but changed the fortunes of the small Aragon town of Borja by attracting tourists and even inspired an opera.

Two years ago another restoration attempt also brought ridicule when a 500-year-old St George’s statue in a corner of a small church in Navarra suffered the indignity of a rather garish paint job.


Before and after images of the statue in the hamlet of Estella, Navarra.

Almudena Gonzalez, another local, wrote on Facebook that the Palencia restoration 'makes me want to cry.'

'It's terrible. And to think of all the great artists we have.'

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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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