By Senor John Stringer – formerly “coNZervative” (and perhaps again).
FINAL: I mentioned in earlier posts about the famous May Square where Argentines protest (where that Athenian style Catholic basilica and the French revival architecture is). This of course is where ‘The Mothers’ still gather to protest “The Disappeared” under the military junta of Juan Peron. On the ground now around the square are these painted templates of the bonnets of the mothers commemorating their decades long vigil (and lack of justice).
The only Russian Orthodox church in Buenos Aries. The cross faces a different way that normal; that is because Russian church crosses always face Russia.
I loved the public sculpture of Buenos Aries everywhere, commemorating everything or just art for arts sake. This enriches Buenos Aries and I hope we emphasise this a lot more in Christchurch as part of the rebuild: extravagant; quirky; fun; inspiring. Here are some samples.
This stunning Donatello-style door
A fountain with bronze sculptures of bull-rushes
An modernist eagle; and this seat is very cool; they have lots of them scattered throughout the city – it is sold metal but looks soft and comfortable
I guess it dissuades the homeless sleeping on them so pedestrians can sit.
Argentines are really in to the gaucho culture (cowboys) of the pampas and you’ll see sculptures along that vein quite a lot like these two; one a brightly painted horse the brown one is covered in glitter. This was an idea taken up in Christchurch using giraffes and Sydney did it also but with Rio Christs.
Below is “The First Murder” and shows Adam and Eve with Abel. It is truly beautiful and worked in marble. It amazes me how anyone can capture such softness and fluidity carved from a lump of marble (I really admire good sculptors) . The faces and fingers and feet are exquisite
Above: The Monty Python foot?
Below: Typical street scenes in Buenos Aries
Off the streets some of the malls are opulent – much more attractive than NZ malls which seem utilitarian by comparison. Others are cheaper and have rows of small shops (above right) where smaller traders can operate. In some cases they have erected an atrium roof between two buildings to create a mall but not just any roof – a facsimile in Italian or French or Classical style.
You can see above (right) how a glass partition separates two Corinthian columns and spans across to another building to enclose the mall; quite clever.
There was also this enormous Christmas tree still up and the ceiling mural is painted in the style of Diego Rivera (Frida Kahlo’s husband). Argentines are quite open about male and female nudity and we were surprised to see murals of full frontal female nudity where kids pass through with their parents.
You can see here the French influence in this mall mural. There were other more riské murals which you’d never see in a NZ mall.
There are obviously all sorts of restaurants in BA of varying quality and cost to suit your taste like this posher restaurant below. But on our last evening we selected this pirate bar with really cool pirate sculptures in-the-round inside the restaurant and fixed to the exterior. I liked the pirate bandannas of the waiters.
Food costs are comparable with NZ; taxis are cheap ($5 approx) so use those to go everywhere; I recommend the three-hour city bus tour (max 12); we felt perfectly safe and coped perfectly with zero Spanish. The archietcture and arts museums were my highlight and from BA you can skip easily over to Uruguay to see the spectacular ‘Niagara’ falls there. Now that AirNZ flys directly I think Argentina is a great option for a getaway from NZ.
As we sat in our pirate lair on beer and burgers a dramatic electric storm without thunder (like that storm in War of the Worlds) came in like a fireworks display or a rolling menace out of Mordor. The sky flashed blue and purple-pink every few seconds as it rolled up the avenue. A fitting conclusion to our visit. ~ J.