Monday, January 23, 2012

New Modern Art in the Born

By Javier Castillo - Jan/23/2012

There is a new museum in the Born area of Barcelona, appropriately tucked away in a narrow perpendicular street, a stone's throw away from the Picasso Museum. It’s called the Museu Europeu d'Art Modern and for you modern art lovers, you are in for a treat. Although limited in scale and collection, this new center, which opened its doors last June in 2011, exhibits some promising contemporary European artists.


The works currently on display, housed in the 18th century Palau Gomis, center mainly around figurative paintings and sculptures. It’s as human as you can get. Three floors of artwork portray depictions of human bodies and forms each giving the viewer a glimpse and unique perspective into the human condition. They speak out, they are bold – expressions of flesh and bone and the underlying spirit. Impressive works include:

Antonio Castello Avilleira´s Models #1 (oil on canvas). This large diptych portrays the same subject in two different positions, one pointing a finger gun at her alternative self, reacting to the gesture with her arms up. This piece is reminiscent of a fashion magazine ad, fresh and playful.

Lorenzo Fernández´s Momento Mori (oil and acrylic on wood). Modern and rich in colors and contrasts, this piece invokes a reaction of self awareness from the viewer as if the piece was observing you rather than the other way around. Symbolisms abound, such as youth and mortality both playing a central theme in this hyperrealistic painting.

Fang Lu´s Autorretrato (oil on canvas). A dramatic piece that screams out and portrays a disturbing side of the human condition. Dark and suffocating, this artwork reminds me of of Goya´s Saturn Devouring His Son  or works by Francis Bacon.

Marti Teixidor´s
Dresden (oil on canvas). This large-scale piece, grandiose with a dramatic narrative shows a burning city in the background and sickly faces in despair littering the foreground. The artist scatters Guernica image fragments around the circumference of the piece to help frame the emotional sequence of the events taking place.

For lovers of music, on Saturdays the museum also offers classical music concerts starting at 6:00 pm. More info: (

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Make Mine Moritz, Please!

By Javier Castillo - Jan/5/2012

Once in a blue moon I get a craving for a uniquely tasting beer. It doesn’t happen often. I have grown complacent with my standard macro brew, drinking just for the sake of drinking, drinking without any real critique to taste; without giving much attention to flavor or finish. And, when I do get that rare craving for something premium, I simply head over to the limited selection of foreign brews at my local supermarket

and pick out a nice, special 6 pack of the delicious golden beverage. Premium beers are good in the bottle, sure, but there is something to be said about beer on tap, and there is certainly more to be said about beer on tap at say a “beer factory”. That’s right "beer factory", or as they call it here in Spain, "fábrica de cerveza". I don’t think a beer could taste any better than at its fountainhead and place of origin, and that’s exactly what I discovered and proved to myself last week at Barcelona´s new hot, and recently-reopened (after 10 years of renovation), Fábrica Moritz Barcelona located in the Raval area of Barcelona at Ronda de San Antonio, 39

<- View of the high-end bar in the back

Moritz beer has been a Catalan favorite for well over 150 years (the brand was created in Barcelona in 1856, Moritz Beer) and its elegant, smooth and crisp finish can now be enjoyed accompanied by a variety of gastronomical treats at this great new spot. On tap is the golden original, brewed with Saaz hops (generally used for Bohemian style lagers and Pilseners), giving it a tasty and slightly sweet malty flavor. Another darker variety called "Epidor" is also on tap for those in the mood for a stronger tasting beer. At the far end of the factory you will find a high-end restaurant and bar offering the freshest of seafood - oysters, crab, mussels and other delights. Not impressed yet? There is also a wine bar (to open on January 16), a beer tasting bar, a small museum, and     
                                                                                                                        View from the entrance of the beer factory ->                                                                                                 
various interactive social spaces for conferences and corporate events. There is also a bakery in the works. The building - thanks to the architect - has preserved it´s exquisite original foundation while easing into a newer, more modern makeover. As for the staff – they are alert and attentive; making the experience at this happening gastronomical and cultural center one-of-a-kind in Barcelona. One friendly staff member in a Moritz-patterned blazer (see photo above), actually guided me through the downstairs area that they plan to open in roughly 2 or 3 months as a large-scale restaurant. Don’t be surprised if the wait for a table at the restaurant takes a longer than you expected, queues can form, especially during the after work hours and on weekends. If that’s the case I suggest you grab a cold one at the bar, mingle with the locals and merrily drink your time away. Cheers!

At the bar with a true beer connoisseur and future brewer, Charles Adams, indecisive at the options before him.