The Arts Society of Mallorca! Although it is a club that wants to have me as a member, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, I want to be a member of it.
A few months ago I wrote about the painter Joaquin Sorolla, known as Master of light (as were Rembrandt, Vermeer and several others) and how I would never have known about him if it hadn't been for an excellent and entertaining talk at said society.
Why Sorolla? Because I like beautiful things - and skill. In a time where, in my home country Norway for example, a guy spurting paint out of his arsehole on stage is called "artist" and receives millions of taxpayers' money, it's such a relief to look at real art and know it's arty art for art's sake.
Sorolla is of course a big part of Spanish culture, and so prolific - he churned out about 3,000 paintings, most of them large to enormous, as well as some 20,000 drawings. He became rich and famous from the get-go. Well deserved!
I had been itching for a trip for a long time and now I had my excuse - I would visit Sorolla's gaff in Madrid.
As usual I chose the slow route: Balearia's tried and trusted boat to Valencia, which is fast becoming my favourite city. It looks and feels very much like Guangzhou, home of Cantonese culture, with its colonial style buildings, laid-back atmosphere and canopies of mature trees. Walking around and sucking in the wonderfulness was a holiday in itself, and bugger me if I didn't see, as I was walking to my now favourite coffee shop, a Sorolla extravaganza!
It turns out he was born in Valencia and it really is so much more him than the stern and forbidding Madrid.
The extravaganza was laid out like the immersive Van Gogh show that toured the world last year, set to evocative music and with the pictures moving, water twinkling, birds flying etc.
But I thought the Sorolla one was much better as it didn't have the same self portraits popping up again and again. Sorolla's pictures are much more romantic and dreamy anyway, and of course he was the Master of light. Van Gogh's Potato Eaters, why is that supposed to be so great - in fact the most expensive painting in the world? Naw, give me some people repairing a sail in sunshine.
Then it was on to Madrid by train with my tarjeta dorada (gold card, yeah, one of the few good things about being seen as a pensioner) to find the main train station so far away from the town centre it might as well be an airport. I think stations should be centrally placed. But I was on a mission, so just dropped my bags at the hotel and walked over to the Sorolla gaff - it took 41 minutes of mostly insane traffic on six lane roads.
Only to find it closed for some festival.
How about putting it on the website? Just a thought.
The next morning I tried again, and this time it was open, with lots of people already waiting in line. Yeah, worth the trip! Do it. Also, he wore a suit even while painting. The arsehole "artist" has probably never seen a shirt in his life, let alone a suit.
What has this got to do with Cantonese, you ask? Well, a lot! Cantonese is also art.
Learn Cantonese the Natural Way - from a Norwegian!
Today's Cantonese: 畫家 - Wa ga - painter