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I am the crown on the brow of my door: in me the East envies the West (La AlhambraSeries)
Original title: Soy corona en la frente de mi puerta: envidia al Occidente en mí el Oriente (Serie La Alhambra)
Acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 220 x 186 cm
Through the ‘La Alhambra’ series, Soledad Sevilla’s spatial concerns take on a truly perceptive character through the constant construction of a poetic evocation from geometrical rigour. The gestation of the series is a long, slow process in which different fortunate circumstances coincide. On the one hand, the analytical investigation carried out in the ‘Las Meninas’ series defines the plastic possibilities of a representative analysis of space. On the other, the suggestions of Oleg Grabar’s lessons, which she attended at Harvard while she was living in Boston, were decisive. Lastly, the chance to live for a few months at the Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta, a villa that stands out on the Granada skyline like a Modernist extension of the Alhambra. The series is divided into three sections or movements, each of which refers to spaces in the palace, rather in the style of a modulation of musical movements, and not so much an analytical and spatial documentation: the Cuarto Dorado, which sums up the mysterious, the occult and the passing in the figure on the doors; the Patio de los Arrayanes, the place of reflections and illusion; and the Patio de los Leones, the place of light and shadow. Throughout the series, lines of convergence, breaks, variations and repetitions are established, as would happen in a musical composition or a poem. Hence their ultimate unity and the consistency of each of the fragments. The titles of each work adopt a poetic evocative tone, which still recalls the verses carved on the stucco as the ornamental frieze of the palace. The resource of nets and webs of lines used to modulate the space and produce the reverberation of light and atmosphere—used previously, though more simply and austerely, in ‘Las Meninas’—attains the precision required by a rigorous perception of the emotional and the poetic in ‘La Alhambra’. The imprecise atmospheres of reflections and spatial depth mark the rhythms of the series. Soy corona en la frente de mi puerta: envidia al Occidente en mí el Oriente belongs to the “movement” of the Cuarto Dorado, whose function as the monumental entrance to the palace is combined with its function as an introit to Sevilla’s pictorial series. The title is a reinterpretation of the poem on the back of the Throne of the Koran that dominates the double door between the interior and exterior of the palace: “The gate where the roads fork and through it the East envies the West.” The Cuarto Dorado is one of the most enigmatic and surprising spaces in the Alhambra, since one of the doors leads through a corridor to the Patio de los Arrayanes, whilst the other returns to the outer courtyards. The door as a space of concealment, but also of anticipation of what lies behind, is what this work appears to be suggesting: the still inaccessible reverberation of the reflections and glitters of the pool in the Patio de los Arrayanes. That transmutation of opposites into complements shows the close relation between this work and the installation Fons et Origo.