Val del Omar

‘Transcendence of Val del Omar’ at Patio Herreriano Museum, Valladolid

May 7 - Aug 29, 2021

The exhibition entitled Transcendence of Val del Omar consists of four films belonging to two of the most significant periods in the production of the filmmaker from Granada, or “cinemist”, as he preferred to call himself. The two periods are the 1930s and the 1950s, two moments in which his most relevant films were made. To the first stage belong Christian Festivities/Pagan Festivities, The Pulsation of Granada and Family Film, all of them made in the mid-1930s and in the context of the Pedagogical Missions, in which Val del Omar took an active part. In the second stage, in the 1950s, Val del Omar filmed Granada Watermirror, one of his legendary pieces, which would later form part of the Elementary Triptych of Spain, which also included Fire in Castile, filmed at the National Sculpture Museum, and Galician Caress. Towards the end of his career and right up to his death in 1982, he moved towards greater technical experimentation in search of new methodologies based on light, form and sound, the structural elements of his work.

Val del Omar’s presence at the Museo Patio Herreriano is in turn divided into two different areas that reflect the multifaceted nature of his work. The Pulsation of Granada and Granada Watermirror can be seen in Room 9, the place taken up until recently by Soledad Sevilla’s paintings based on her well-known ornamental schemes and her relationship with light. It is interesting to remember that Soledad Sevilla spent many years in Granada, where she taught at the Faculty of Fine Arts; she lived and worked there for many years, drawing inspiration for some of her most acclaimed pieces. In the adjoining space, the Counts of Fuensaldaña Chapel, remains her installation “Of Sunlight and Moonlight”, made with cotton thread, a piece that over the coming months will accompany the two films by Val del Omar about Granada, a city that he himself described as the “eternal borderline between the night and the morning”.

In The Pulsation of Granada, filmed in 1935, we can already see the makings of Granada Watermirror, filmed 20 years later: a special affection for water in its variable manifestations, an aesthetic reflection born of the encounter between light and red sandstone, the shadows coming and going in routine sequences defining atauriques and neckings, with the steep slopes of the Sierra Nevada in the background… The “Watermirror”, with its image flowing outside the frame, takes these initial guidelines to another mystical dimension, with the incorporation of plant and animal references in which echoes of Nasrid decoration resound. The sound slips into the footage, developing arrhythmias parallel to those that also define the image sequences. Although “Watermirror” was filmed much later, traces of the documentary, humanist and Utopian approach of the Missions still remain in it.

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In another area, the exhibition entitled Piedad Isla – A Photographic Testimony in Rooms 1 and 2, Christian Festivities/Pagan Festivities and Family Film, filmed, just like “Pulsation”, in the mid-1930s, enjoy the same documentary nature. The “festivities” include footage filmed in Murcia, Lorca and Cartagena, focusing on the different ritual forms of Easter and Spring festivals, praising light and resoundingly revealing collective passions. Family Film, on the other hand, evokes a more intimate atmosphere, starring Val del Omar himself together with his wife and children in different situations, all of them, however, united by the astonishment produced by all that is incipient and promising in films and life.