May 16, 2013
By PATRICIA MORA, special contributor
Martín Rico at Meadows Museum
Contemporary conceptual art can sometimes weigh heavily on gallerygoers. So it’s refreshing to rediscover the spectacle of luxuriantly painted landscapes and the pleasure they deliver.
The Meadows Museum offers a case in point with “Impressions of Europe: Nineteenth-Century Vistas by Martín Rico.” More than 100 of his works are on display, allowing us to stray through a fissure in time and experience the work of a 19th-century sensibility honed to a degree akin to perfect pitch.
Rico is known for his work as a plein-air artist, capturing landscapes in France, Italy, the United States and his native Spain. The show is varied, and each piece is spectacular. Among the most interesting works are those capturing the Islamic influence in Spanish architecture. There is a resonant thrill in intricate tile work and carved, arched doorways, all of which are captured in Rico’s paintings. One example, among many, is The School Patio, a work that summons irresistible romantic exotica.
The artist spent multiple summers in Venice — sometimes working in gondolas — and painted nearly every surface in the city. Thus, Santa Maria della Salute is a seductive paean to one of the world’s most fabulous cities. Dappled water, a stucco facade and a cascade of columns and domes reverberate with tactile charm. La Corniche renders the lineaments of the French Riviera before it became piled with spendy, multistory buildings that flare with all the architectural allure of fast-food chains.
The Meadows Museum continues to put up stellar shows. Its collaboration with the Prado Museum in Madrid is not only a coup; it serves as an opportunity for those of us near “the museum on the prairie” to see some of the best art in the world. In an overly digitized world, it also operates as a badly needed reminder that we are exuberant, incarnate beings made for imbibing beauty.
Through July 7 at the Meadows Museum, 5900 Bishop Blvd., Dallas. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. $10, with discounts. 214-768-2516. smu.edu/meadowsmuseum....