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Elementary Triptych of Spain

Saturday, Sep 30 at 12:30 pm

Location: Bartos Screening Room

If you are planning to see the exhibition Cinema of Sensations: The Never-Ending Screen of Val del Omar (on view through Oct. 1) on this day and would like to see this program, simply purchase general admission and request a screening ticket when you arrive.

The films that comprise José Val del Omar’s Elementary Triptych of Spain (1953–1995) are audiovisual poems of the senses, presenting cinema as a total experience. Each film uses a different natural element for symbolic purpose—water, fire, and earth—and focuses on regions that cross Spain from west to east, offering dreamlike, mystical visions that are rich with religious imagery. Val del Omar imagined various possible arrangements and durations for the three parts. His preference was for viewers to watch the films in reverse chronology, as presented in this program: entering through Galicia, crossing Castilla, and leaving through Granada.

Acariño Galaico (De Barro) (Galician Caress [of Clay]) 
Dir. José Val del Omar. 1961–1995, 24 mins. DCP. Intended to be the final component in his Elementary Triptych of Spain, Acariño Galaico (De Barro) was made using footage that Val del Omar shot in 1961. The artist continued to work on the film in the early 1980s and planned to present it in a program of Spanish avant-garde films at the Centre Pompidou in 1982, the year he died. (Ultimately it would be completed by filmmaker Javier Codesal.) A portrait of the Galicia region of Spain, the film incorporates clay sculptures alongside images of the region’s landscape, religious objects, and cultural traditions. 

Fuego en Castilla (Fire in Castile) 
Dir. José Val del Omar. 1960, 17 mins. DCP. In this second part of the Elementary Triptych of Spain, Val del Omar continued exploring polysensorial cinema while developing his own filmic and sound vocabulary. Fuego en Castilla was presented at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival, receiving a Special Mention for its lighting. 

Aguaespejo Granadino (Watermirror of Granada) 
Dir. José Val del Omar. 1955, 21 mins. DCP. In the final component of his Elementary Triptych of Spain, Val del Omar sets imagery of the Alhambra—its architecture and the water of its canals, fountains, and gardens—to the rhythm of siguiriyas (part of the flamenco-style cante jondo, or “deep song”). Bodies march in symbiosis with the water and the landscape; close-ups of faces shimmer as though liquid. The dreamlike visual texture of the film is enhanced with pulsating light from lens filters and stop-motion effects, while sections are tinted green (a color associated with Granada), recalling the city’s Islamic roots. 

All films courtesy of the Val del Omar Archive 

Tickets: $15 / $11 senior and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / discounted for MoMI members ($7–$11). Order tickets. Please pick up tickets at the Museum’s admissions desk upon arrival. All seating is general admission. Review safety protocols before your visit.


Logos for Val del Omar Archives, Max Estrella Gallery, AC/E, and King Juan Carlos Center