March 20, 2005

Anticipating Madrid

Caution: Moderate sentiment ahead.

A return to Madrid, to where I was born, to the Prado, where I stood before Goya's "Saturn..." and first felt the impulse to paint.

In the book on this Mexican master's architecture, Emiliio Ambaz interviews Barragan and discovers that his archtiectural vocabulary comes from the town in which he was raised, Oaxaca. Barragan describes how a water system comes into the town from high overhead the buildings and spills into courtyards along it's course... the description which serves his architecture. Finally, Emilio asks Luis if he went back home to see the source of inspiration and Barragan said no. No, because he did not want to be dissapointed.

I think the dissapointment would be a shift in scale. I remember Panama in epic terms, a child's eye monumentalizes everything, and for that reason, I don't want to return to Panama for fear of ruining my memories of it as well. But somehow, Madrid is different.

In the picture above, my father and mother plus their friends were invited to visit a house of a wealthy family that had burned, a fire that was put out by the AirForce firemen stationed at Torrejon AirBase. At that time, Torrejon was the opening of the Fascist State of Spain. The servicemen that were stationed there, my father, was lucky to be the first to experience a country preserved in the amber of the past, the way I imagine Prague was like at the end of the 80's.

That was six years after my dad's company was wiped out in an ambush at Pusan, Korea. He and fourteen others were the only survivors. The years in Spain were halcyon days.

Papa (A texas boy raised in Missouri) and his friends had stumbled into the Filippine community there in Madrid. They met, courted and married (in Tanjiers) against my grandfather's wishes.

My grandfather sent his family of nine children to Madrid to study. The house they lived in was then in the outskirts of the city, "in the country" as mom describes. Today, it is a block away from the Moncloa, Spain's White House.

Papa, sharing a cigarette with the driver.

It would be nice to have a memory of that day.

Posted by Dennis at March 20, 2005 10:12 PM

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