08 June 2013

Alcalá's new favourite sons

This year has seen the adoption of two new hijos predilectos (favourite sons) by the town of Alcalá de los Gazules - one long dead and one very much alive.

The former is Diego Ángel de Viera, the priest who gave up his worldly goods to set up the charitable institution known as the Beaterio  in 1788.  There are various actos de homenage at the Beaterio throughout the year, including a musical evening on 6 July and an exhibition on 9-11 August.

The latter is the prolific artist, sculptor and writer Jesús Cuesta Arana, who lives and works in the town and is very much a part of its cultural character. His wife Isabel taught for many years at the local secondary school, and they have recently become grandparents.  Cuesta Arana has been described as a modern-day "Renaissance man".  Ever on a quest for new projects, he has recently taken up jewellery designing and engraving.

Cuesta Arana's paintings are full of life and colour, magic and mystery, humour and ambiguity, angels and demons. Many reflect his deep love of tauromaquia (bullfighting), flamenco and his fellow Andalusians.  In his own words: "My painting is very personal .... I'm not a landscape artist, but the landscape is in the atmosphere, the surrounding air that animates the painting, I'm not religious, but you can see a great picture I painted for nuns ... I let the brushes do the talking for me. I like grotesque masks, and so my work could be described as magical realism because it unites everyday reality with dreams."

Over a hundred examples of his life's work are on show at the Cento Cultural Santo Domingo until 7 July.  Others, including his lifesize scultpures, have to be seen in situ.  A good example is the tableau dedicated to the petenera flamenco artists in the nearby town of Paterna de la Rivera.

The celebrations include an open-air concert last night in the Alameda by the veteran ´60s rock band "The Rangers Black", who reformed specially for the occasion after 42 years.  On 9 August there will be a special flamenco night at the Centro Cultural Santo Domingo.

To see more of Cuesta Arana's work, visit his blog or follow him on Facebook.

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