Marta Rullán |
Rome (EFE).- The Royal Academy of Spain in Rome, key in the training of generations of Spanish artists and intellectuals, turns 150, an “opportunity” to publicize its incredible history, but also its “bet for the future of culture.
“It is a center of cultural production and innovation. What we create here is heritage and the future,” its director, Ángeles Albert, told EFE, for whom it is “a brutal challenge” to be in charge of one of the greatest references for creators and researchers in Spain and Latin America.
Exhibitions, conferences, concerts or performances are scheduled this year to celebrate the century and a half of this unique public institution that, as part of the festivities, will even have its own pavilion at ARCO, the great art fair that opens on Wednesday in Madrid.
A step to reach the Prado
“Every day we put a step in the contents that later arrive, for example, at the Prado Museum. It is not for nothing that more than 300 of his works are by directors and scholarship holders and many are Goya, National Literature, Comic, and Illustration awards, ”says Albert.
The Academy welcomes around twenty artists each year to develop a project for nine months, an opportunity that changes their lives forever, but is also “essential for Spain’s foreign action,” the ambassador to Italy, Miguel Ángel, stressed to EFE. Fernandez-Palacios.
Ramón del Valle-Inclán, the Benlliure brothers, Francisco Pradilla, Ruperto Chapí, Tomás Bretón, Agustín Querol, Eduardo Chicharro, María de Pablos, Carmelo Bernaola, Rafael Moneo, Teresa Peña, Ana Rosetti and Guillermo Pérez Villalta are just some of its directors and pensioners.
Since its foundation on August 5, 1873 by Nicolás Salmerón, president of the first Republic, 1,050 scholars have had the privilege of “creating” in its imposing headquarters on the Gianicolo hill, on the popular Trastevere neighborhood and with one of the most spectacular views of Rome.
Located in the old Convent of “San Pietro in Montorio”, it also has a jewel of Renaissance architecture: the Bramante temple, built where, according to tradition, Saint Peter was crucified.
A bet of the Catholic Monarchs
“This exceptional complex, and not so well known by Spanish citizens, was a bet of the Catholic Monarchs” and now the State is finalizing the inter-ministerial agreement for a rehabilitation of 6 million euros.
The works will last two or three years and will be combined with the life of the Academy, which did not close even when Italy became the western focus of the pandemic and began to flood with deaths: “The scholarship holders were given the opportunity to leave and almost all of them stayed”, recalls its director with emotion.
Nor during the Civil War, when the two sides coexisted and a station supporting Francoism was even installed there, while in the harshest period of persecution of the Jews in Italy some were able to hide in it.
Living with the artists
150 years ago, those who created the Academy “wanted to be close to the sources of classical art. Today it is a bit the same”, explains Albert, with an extensive institutional career.
Since his arrival in 2015, he has focused on renewing the only institution outside of Spain permanently dedicated to “supporting creators and researchers to develop a project, with a reasonable amount of funds to carry it out for a period and feed back”.
“It is very gratifying to live every day with artists, to share from Monday to Sunday in a house with open doors and in which the imagination continuously vibrates”.
In this century and a half of history “the creative processes have changed (…) but not the need to support artists so that culture can be made”, without worrying about “how to pay the rent”.
into the 22nd century
Does a 19th century institution still make sense in the 21st? France, the US, Great Britain, Germany and Switzerland “have their own Academy with an action formula very similar to ours” and “we, as the great country that we are, also encourage the creation of our artists”, says the Spanish ambassador .
“It is an essential instrument of our external action, in its aspect of presence and cultural mix”, “well known in Rome” and “with this 150th anniversary we want it to be so in Spain as well” because “its scholarship holders, through what they learn, project and transfer make us stronger”, he adds.
Now, explains its director, the Academy seeks to “project itself into the future” to “anticipate the 22nd century”, including “areas that have not yet arrived here”, such as video games, or opening residencies in “culturally very important territories, such as the East Medium”, after obtaining a specific scholarship for citizens of the European Union in an institution that already receives scholarship holders from Latin America.