Spain inaugurates 18-months of cultural exchange with Colombia through ‘Foco’

Spain and Colombia need more than a year to celebrate their cultural ties. In fact, one wouldn’t exist without the other, no matter on which side of the Atlantic you are. From Cervantes Saavedra to García Márquez, authors of the two most important works of Spanish-language literature, to Picasso and Botero, 20th century painters who defined the world’s artistic landscape, the cultural connectivity of two worlds, Old and New, and now two sovereign nations, has transcended words and canvas.

January marked the start of Foco Cultural España Colombia 2018/2019, result of both governments wanting to showcase their cultural achievements and celebrate new talent. Unlike Colombia-France Year, that took place within a diplomatic and economic framework, Foco Cultural España Colombia, as its name suggests, is purely a cultural exchange, covering visual arts, literature, music and performance.

The first major event of this 18-month long schedule of activities is the exhibition Illustradores Españoles: El Color del Optimismo, translated as Spanish Illustrators: The Color of Optimism. Presenting the editorial works of six young graphic designers, this exhibition moves to the Visual Arts Museum of the Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano this month, after being shown in Cartagena.

Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) is the Spanish government’s agency for cultural promotion, and together with the Spanish Embassy in Bogotá have organized Focus Spain-Colombia. The objective also, is that this window on the arts will lead to even more collaborative projects. According to the director of Acción Cultural Española (AC/E), Elvira Marco, the next 18-months will be “intensive” as Spain will be present in all major events, such as the 31st Bogotá International Book Fair (FILBO); Cartagena International Film Festival (FICCI); the music and audiovisual network- ing platforms organized by the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, Bogotá Music Market (BOMM) and Bogotá Audiovisual Market (BAM).

But, Foco isn’t just relegated to Bogotá. Medellín, Cartagena, Pereira and Cali will have their own exhibitions, lecture series and film screenings. Colombia is the first country to participate with Spain in a cultural exchange of this importance. “Colombia has a great sensibility towards the arts,” remarked Ambassador Pablo Gómez de Olea.

Here some of the highlights of FOCO:

From March 7 to 21, the 6th edition of Muestra de Cine Español will present a diverse array of films from the country’s most exciting filmmakers. Running for two weeks, this “sample” allows audiences to become better acquainted with the political and social undercurrents that have influenced this nation of award-winning actors and directors. Spain’s contribution to the cinematic arts will also be recognized at the International Film Festival of Cali, in November.

In April, the alternative gallery space Odeón will showcase VRMUT, with contemporary art from both sides of the Atlantic.

In September, all eyes are on the Banco de la República as the temporary home of the oil painting Agnus Dei by Francisco de Zurbarán. Part of the National Museum El Prado’s magnificent collection, this is the first time a painting of this historical significance is exhibited in Colombia.

The Madrid-based institution will also be present on the streets of Bogotá and Medellín between September and November with El Prado en las Calles de Colombia. Fifty-three reproductions of the most representative works will be shown to the public in large-format and carefully curated by the museum.

One of the most anticipated events of 2018 is the presentation by Spain’s National Dance Company of “Carmen” in the Teatro Colón, April 16. This contemporary adaptation by choreographer Johan Inger is all Spanish air, including excellent dancers and music. During the next 11 months, another important cultural space, Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo, has its own line up of performances by leading Spanish soloists, flamenco groups and classical ensembles, including Sigma Project Quartet, and National Ballet of Spain. The Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra (OFB) has invited a host of musical directors to conduct as part of their 50-years celebration.

But, it’s not all traditional fare. Some of Spain’s hottest, chart-topping bands will participate in Bogotá’s big music festivals, including Rock al Parque, Jazz al Parque and Hip Hop al Parque. So, here’s to España and more than a year of amazing culture. Olé!