The Spanish capital is famous as an art-lovers paradise and this November will see the streets of Madrid come to life with the spectacular outdoor art exhibition; the second edition of Meninas Madrid Gallery.
The stunning showcase is inspired by the iconic Velazquez painting, Las Meninas, which hangs in the city’s famous Prado Museum. The painting’s iconic “meninas” – meaning “maid of honour” – have been reinterpreted into a series of more than 50 beautiful outdoor installations positioned around the city.
This artistic initiative, promoted by Madrid City Council, in collaboration with ACOTEX and within the framework of Madrid Fashion Capital, is led by artist Antonio Azzato. More than 50 sculptures, made of fiberglass, created by Azzato, display a reinterpretation of numerous famous Spanish celebrities including actors, designers, celebrities, athletes and artists. This includes the likes of Rafael Nadal, Rosana, Dani Rovira, Ouka Leele, Samantha Vallejo-Nájera, María Pombo and Quique Dacosta. Each meninas has a different theme, with one even celebrating the 25th anniversary of the TV series Friends, placed next to an imitation of the well-known Central Perk sofa.
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Each 1.80-metre-tall figure encourages art lovers and locals to explore the Spanish capital to see the stunning pieces. And every sculpture has a QR code which can be scanned with any mobile device which then explains the concept of the work as well as introducing the maid virtually.
Housed at the luxury Hotel VP Plaza España Design 5*, located on Grand Vía, is the crown jewel of the entire exhibit, the “Menina Lustre de Mar” considered the most valuable and exclusive Menina made with precious stones, gems and diamonds.
“Menina Lustre de Mar” was envisioned by Element&Co, a design studio that specializes in applying precious stones and materials to interior spaces and furniture. This detailed art piece took several months to complete due to the meticulous elaboration process it required.
The exclusive piece was unveiled this week at its temporary setting at VP Plaza España Design 5*’s door, visible to both hotel guests and pedestrians on Madrid’s busy Plaza España. The Menina’s setting just steps away from the Royal Palace of Madrid, is no coincidence. This impressive artwork was made as a tribute to the Royal House of Spain. It pays homage to the family of Philip IV and the aristocracy portrayed in the Baroque period, as well as to the current Royal Family of Spain. This is why the entire figure of the Menina has been covered with Mother of Pearl, a special material that represents the nobility, the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie of the time, and also enhances light and shine in an exquisite way, just as Velázquez did in his work,” explain its creators.
The goal of Sasha Sanchez and Bryan Ou Yang, designers and founders of Element&Co, was to create a unique jewel on a human scale. “The Menina has been carefully created using a fine selection of materials, including mother of pearls cultivated from rivers and lakes in Japan. The precision of the cut and the composition of the figure of the Menina was entirely done by hand. Due to the complexity of its elaboration it pays homage to the craftsmen’s trades. The Mother of Pearl has been cut into tesserae and applied one by one until completely covered. More than 30 thousand white mother-of-pearl tesserae were used for this,” they added.
To further its extravagance, the Menina is crowned with yet another jewel – a spectacular tiara made by gemologist and jewelry designer Lisi Fracchia. The tiara is made of 18 carat yellow gold, more than 80 carats of sphalerites, a Spanish precious stone and more than 2 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds. The Sphalerites boast a fantasy cut that were done by a precision cutting technique by Dr. Egor Gavrilenko.
WHERE TO STAY WHILST IN MADRID
BLESS Collection Hotels
A number of the Meninas are situated on Calle de Velázquez within the city’s fashionable Salamanca district, making the new BLESS Hotel Madrid the perfect spot to stay in the heart of the art. The stylish hotel is also footsteps from the famous Prado Museum so guests can visit the original Velazquez painting to see the original point of inspiration. The stylish hotel offers 111 rooms, rooftop pool, bowling alley, spa and gym. BLESS Collection Hotels is dedicated to the concept of Hedonist Luxury and offers a non-stop cultural agenda from art and culture to fashion and gastronomy.
VP Plaza Espana Design 5*
As part of the exhibition, the luxury hotel VP Plaza España Design 5* will be home to the ‘Menina Lustre de Mar’ which is considered the most valuable and exclusive of the Menina in the collection. Made with precious stones, gems and diamonds – the detailed piece took several months to complete due to the meticulous elaboration process it required. The exclusive piece is located on the 12th floor at VP Plaza España Design 5*’s Ginkgo Sky Bar & Restaurant, it’s the perfect place to stay to appreciate this unique public art.