Situated within walking distance of their more famous neighbours Reina Sofia and Prado, Caixa Forum Madrid has to work hard to stand out in a crowded cultural space.
Fortunately for them (and their visitors) their primary exhibit La imagen humana- Arte, identidades y simbolismo is more than worth the visit. Human Faces, in collaboration with the British Museum, examines how we have portrayed ourselves from as far back 2500 B.C to the modern day.
There are many works that catch the eye but what really strikes you is the sheer amount of diversity in the pieces. One moment, the imposing 19th century portrait of Isabella II (by Luis de Madrazo) looms over you as in the next instant, you are greeted with the eery smile of the otherworldly sculptures produced at roughly the same time, from Papau New Guinea.
Running themes throughout the exhibit focus on the body in its ideal form and tracking how what we define as beauty has transformed and transmuted across time and cultures. However, there are darker attempts to mould the human image into a more palatable form. We see this clearly upon arriving at the exhibit focussed on former Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad calling Syria´s first astronaunt Muhammed Faris (as of 2016 a refugee in Turkey), whilst he was in space back in 1987.
The desire of the powerful and autocratic to associate themselves with progress a timeless theme.
With over 140 pieces to see, whether they be sculptors, paintings or contemporary media there is more than enough to get lost in before heading to Caixa Forum´s modern and tranquil café, a well kept secret that, just like the exhibit, rewards those who break away from the more famous cultural track.
La imagen humana is in exhibit at Caixa Forum until 9th January and Caixa Forum latest exhibition ´Tattoo. Arte bajo la piel´ is now open.
Caixa Forum is free for all La Caixa customers.