Madrid: Museums of Tiny Universes

Anna Suszynski
March 20, 2015

The Prado

          We locked away our few belongings in the hostel and wandered outside–meandering down big streets until we stood staring at an imposingly large building, all stone and strength. But inside lie rooms on rooms of pretty painted things. Sometimes you need a plan when confronting a museum bigger than your dog’s ego but I’ve never been a fan of plans. So we pressed a button in the glass elevator and watched our shoes walk all over the city like ascending pigeons. And I dragged those pigeons from room to room as they pecked and chastised the paintings, I gazed at portraits unknowingly, detached and more interested in the negative space between them– my ideas doing their own dance on the sterile, white walls. Until I was staring at a painting for a while, and the walls dropped away and then my shoes walked inside and turned into brush strokes as I reached the vanishing point. There was a princess smack dab in the middle and with a dress that could land her safely on the ground from a dive out of a helicopter. Pale face, I wanted to make her run the mile so Valesquez could tuck red rose petals in her cheeks. Maybe that was the point– like she was a wrapped-up present tied down to the floor but there was a look in her eye as if she were straining for a view into my world– a world outside. I thought that maybe I’d track footsteps into the museum but the paint had been dry for centuries even though Valesquez’s smile was smooth like the surface of an unbroken pond, not dry. Las Meninas, I left her a path out just in case.

            If you asked me which panel I liked best I would tell you not the heaven one– it seemed like a boring place. And since I still held Valesquez’ brush, I painted my feet green and walked into the Garden of Earthly Delights while the tour group behind me was fiddling with their remote controlled guides. I turned into one of the birds and stood squawking and waving my wings about. I liked the colors inside and the strawberries. But once I ate the forbidden fruit and wrung my wings dry in the pond, I was spat into the next panel– the one with el Diablo. I think Dalí might have stopped there once with his surrealist mustache, had some tea with the devil, maybe he was the devil himself because there was an ear wielding a knife and things on stilts. It was darker with el Diablo because God must have been angry at how bright my earthly feathers used to be– I really just dipped them in Bosch’s oils when he wasn’t looking. Somebody plucked my feathers bald and burned them in the inferno. Until we were all the same. Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten the strawberry but the nightlife there was impeccable (in Madrid of course).

Reina Sofia

            You would think that the Prado would get mad at me for tracking footprints into their coveted paintings but everybody was too busy scrutinizing nametags instead of the tiny worlds before them– like a fishbowl, a glimpse of the expansive sea. The Guernica was different– it commanded attention; it gave the heart a shield and the mind a blunt knife in a fight for understanding. I could look into each observer’s eyes and see Picasso’s cubes twisting and tearing at the preconceived walls they constructed in their minds. No cameras allowed. So they dropped their phones and finally just stood and listened with their eyes. They listened to the painting but I listened to them as they turned into triangles, bulls, light bulbs, and floating heads. Until it was just me before the massive painting but I couldn’t turn black and white so I dropped my paintbrush and let Picasso tell me about the war.   

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Anna Suszynski

<p>My name is Anna Suszynski and I live in Colorado. I will graduate in 2016 from Colorado College having studied to be an English major, Creative Writing Track. I love to read, ski, go to as many concerts as I can, hang out with my mom, hike, take way too many photographs, and get lost.&nbsp;</p>

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