Saturday, February 16, 2013

Isidro Nonell and Raquel Meller at Barcelona's CCCB

I recently visited Barcelona's CCCB to see their Paral·lel [Avenue], 1894-1939 exhibition and came away with two names stuck in my mind.

I was taken with the soulful paintings of Catalan artist Isidro Nonell and by the sensuality of the actress/performer Raquell Meller, who (oddly) has a great attractivness on film but hardly any in the frozen image.

The transformation of this area from a dusty and sleezy shantytown of “outsiders” into an entertainment district then into an important boulevarde is remarkable.

Avinguda Paral·lel was the centre of nightlife and bohemia in the Barcelona of the early 20th-century and was the realm of the so-called “lesser genres”, shows definitely popular in nature and in which music usually played a vital role. These included from cabaret and music hall, to the revue, vaudeville and social melodrama, flamenco and zarzuela, the traditional Spanish operetta. In addition, there was a range of paratheatrical arts, such as circus and varieties of all kinds, often combined with the first cinematographic screenings.

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