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Culture Of Spain: Sustaining In Crisis

  • November 8th, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

vargas-moves.jpg“Out of adversity, much art has been born”, says Antonio Vargas, maestro of Flamenco dance, disclaiming that the country of Spain, and Europe itself, will perish in current tough times.


Mr Vargas was commenting after performing an excerpt from his autobiographical work, “A Flamenco Life” , on the last evening of an exhibition of Spanish masters from the Prado gallery, at the Queensland Art Gallery, 3.11.12.

A native of Morocco, spending extended periods of his life in England and Spain, and today Singapore, he laments the present-day Spanish economic crisis; but wants to put out a reminder of the sustaining power of culture in the country’s long history.

“’A Flamenco Life’ relates the passage of my life and touched on some tough times that Spain has endured in the past”, he told EUAustralia Online.

“But out of adversity much art has been born.

“Spain is nothing if not rich in its history and the culture of its people.

“The architecture too is an expression of a civilisation, and the dance, music, and art are an integral part of it, putting an enduring meaning into life.


“What many outside commentators fail to comprehend is that reports of Europe’s demise are overstated, as the European project is but begun. It’s greatest success is in holding the warring nations of our continent together in our version of united states – an unprecedented era of peace.”

The venue for his performance, in Brisbane, was selected by the Australian Council for Europe (ACE); see picture, Mr Vargas with the ACE President, Elfi Vallazza-Massey.



In galleries adjacent to his stage, were 100 “Masterpieces from the Prado”, the name given to the exhibition from the illustrious museum of Madrid (pictures), curated to tell a story of Spanish painting and Spanish identity from 1550 to1900.

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It gave a heavy focus to painting of the 17th Century, when Royal courts both commissioned work from Spanish artists or brought in others — the likes of Peter Paul Reubens, from Flanders.

A few to mention: Diego Velazquez’s “Mars” (c. 1641), Francisco de Goya’s “María Antonia Gonzaga, Marchioness widow of Villafranca” (1795), and, from the collection of the host gallery, Pablo Picasso’sLa Belle Hollandaise” (1905).



Children shared the stage at Antonio Vargas’s spectacle on this occasion. He is a teacher, passing on a rich heritage, and the message that culture is sustaining through bad times as well as good.

Mr Vargas is well known to cinema audiences as Fran’s “gypsy father” in the 1992 Baz Luhrmann film, “Strictly Ballroom”, to which he also contributed advice on coreography. His credits also include “Mission Impossible II” (2000).


Greg Gavrionitis, Neil Reeves