Oviedo Bronzes

22/11/2023 10:57

The Asturian capital is dotted with more than a hundred statues, mostly bronze that, impassive under the Cantabrian rain, decorate downtown streets. They represent real and fictional characters, who are or have been famous and to whom the city pays tribute.

Starting the tour in the same centre, in the Alfonso II el Casto Square, the cathedral square, opened in 1926 after demolishing the two and three-story homes that hid the temple, since 1997, there is the image of Ana Ozores, La Regenta in the homonymous novel by Leopoldo Alas “Clarín”. The sculpture, work of Mauro Álvarez Fernández (1945-), cuts out her profile in front of the San Salvador tower, looking sideways to her right while she holds a book and her skirt with her gloved hands. In the nearby Trascorrales Square, the vendors of the old market meet. The market was built in 1966 and had twenty-two stalls selling fish. Here are the statues of the Fish Seller, by José Antonio García Prieto Llonguera (1950-), installed in October 1996; the Woman Fish Seller, by Sebastián Miranda Ovetense (1885-1975), installed in front of the previous one in 2005; the Milkmaid, a work by Manuel García Linares (1943 -) since 1996 resting on a pile of bales and accompanied by a donkey carrying containers of milk, seems to be waiting for a buyer. In front of the Fontán, in the Daoíz and Velarde Square, stay the Fontan Sellers, by Amador González Hevia (1954-), also installed in 1996 and surely inspired by old photographs that repeat the scene: a woman standing with hers arms on her hips and a jug in front of hers feet, her companion, squatting, watches and grabs another container with both hands. Inside Fontán Square, La Bella Lola (Pretty Lola) is sitting on a bench, a work by Carmen Fraile, from 2009, which is reminiscent of the famous namesake Havana song. A market was held here before the Trascorrales was built in the space formerly occupied by the backyard patios and corrals on Cimadevilla Street.

A few steps away, in front of the Campillín gardens, Campomanes Count, Carlos III's finance minister, seems to take note. Since 2003, the work, by Amado González Hevia (1954-), has been surrounded by the vehicles traffic in the middle of a roundabout. El Campillín was formerly the Campo de los Herreros (Smithfield), a market where all kinds of second-hand items were bought and offered.

Back in front of the Regenta, but now taking Eusebio González Street in the direction of Escandalera Square, you soon reach Porlier Square, which in other times was called Plaza de la Fortaleza (Stronghold Square) because there was a fortified building there near the city walls which disappeared due to an explosion occurred in the 18th century. There, in front of what was the former Covadonga Hotel, inaugurated in 1906, awaits the statue of the Traveler, also titled The Return of Williams B Arrensberg, heteronym of Eduardo Úrculo (1938-2003), its author. The bronze has been there since September 6, 1993. The man stands, legs crossed, before his voluminous luggage and an umbrella, covered by a trench coat and a hat. A few steps away, on San Francisco Street, in front of Oviedo University Renaissance building and upon a pedestal, there is a work by Manolo Hugué (1872-1945), companion of Pablo Picasso and other painters of his time during the period they shared in Ceret; the statue, Sitting Woman, dates back from 1930, but was installed in February 1998.

Reaching Escandalera Square, the Asturcones appear, three metal horses work of Manuel Valdés (1942-) which since 2003 have guarded the corner with San Francisco Street. A few meters away, closer to the middle of the square, Fernando Botero (1932-2023) displays her plump Motherhood, a naked curvy woman sitting with her equally chubby baby on her left knee, opening his arms to the world since 1996.

Around the well-known Campoamor Theatre, inaugurated in 1892 with an initial capacity of 275 seats, there are several more sculptures. In the left corner stands the Culis Monumentalibus by Eduardo Úrculo (1938-2003), buttocks and thighs that have been shown shamelessly since October 2001. Behind this piece stands the abstract Dancer by sculptor Santiago de Santiago (1925-2023) since 2011; and a few meters away, installed in October 1988 on the corner of Pelayo and Alonso de Quintanilla streets, stands Hope Walking, by Julio López Hernández (1930-2018), carrying her notebooks and books, sheltered with her scarf. In front of the right façade of the theatre in Carbayón Square began to meditate, in 1999, the Thinker by José Luis Fernández (1943-), accompanied by the bust dedicated to Doctor Plácido Álvarez Buylla, a humanist medicine doctor, it was erected by popular subscription in September 1972 and is the work of Gerardo Zaragoza (1902-1985). Opposite, where Argüelles Street and Manuel García Conde Street separate, is located, surrounded by a flower bed, the Monument to Concord, by Esperanza d'Ors (1949-); it is about a group of seven naked people who seem to move towards a future that seems promising.

To the north of the cathedral, the corner of Jovellanos and Gascona, where the cider street begins, has been occupied since 2055 by Sebastián Miranda's Gitana (1885-1975), covered with a headscarf and holding a wicker basket under the left arm. On the opposite sidewalk, the statue of the Guisanderas, by María Luisa Sánchez-Ocaña Fernández (1974-) was installed in 2001, a stylized composition in which a woman stirs stew from a pot in front of the attentive gaze of a girl.

Already in the commercial area, on Palacio Valdés Street, there is the Diestro by Miguel Berrocal (1933-2006), a semi-abstract torso that represents a suit of lights on a pedestal since 1998, while at the end of the same street it is portrayed full-length Tino Casal, in a work by Aurelio González. A few steps away, on the corner of Doctor Casal Street, next to Uría Street, you almost trip over the sculpture by Sara Iglesias Poli, which has represented the Rufo dog since September 2015. Even on Uría, with Milicias Street, awaits the famous film director, Woody Allen, who received the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts in 2002; this is another work by Vicente Menéndez.

In front of Escandalera Square extends St Francisco Park, a large garden of six hectares that had been a wooded area outside the walls with orchards and meadows; it took its name from the homonymous convent of which the plan of the church and its two cloisters could still be seen on urban maps of the 19th century. After the confiscation of Mendizábal, it was transformed into a hospital that was demolished in 1901 to build the headquarters of the Provincial Council, until 1982, when the General Board of the Principality occupied it. In addition to trees, fountains, benches and a couple of fountains, the park is fully ornated with many bronzes and also stone statues.

The sidewalk that faces Uría Street, the old Paseo de los Álamos (Poplars Walk), houses a large bust dedicated to Sabino Fernández Campo, Count of Latores, by Victor Ochoa Sierra (1954-), the Monument to José Tartiere Lenegre, by Víctor Hevia ( 1885-1957) and Manuel Álvarez Laviada (1892-1958), this one erected in 1933. In the corner there is another piece about motherhood, it is Encarna con Chiquilín, by Sebastián Miranda (1885-1975), installed there on September 21, 2005, in front of the Casa del Termómetro, where the Hotel Inglés, Casa Natalio with fine draperies and an ostentatious advertisement for Anís Asturiana once stood. Inside the park there are those of St Francisco, in stone, the bust of Juan Muñiz, the monument to Leopoldo Alas “Clarín”, the busts of the painter Paulino Vicente (1900-1990), work of Félix Alonso Arena (1931- ), that of Alfonso Iglesias and that of the Third Marquis of Santa Cruz; there is also a seated on a bench Mafalda, this one in colour and in homage to its creator, Joaquín Lavado Tejón, Quino; Manuel Fernández Avello (1924-2002), who was a journalist for the Oviedo newspaper La Nueva España, in another work by Vicente Menéndez; a new Maternity, that of Félix Alonso Arena (1931-); Armando Palacios Valdés (1853-1938), writer, author of The Lost Village, sculpted by Gerardo Zaragoza and Adiós Cordera, by Manuel García Linares (1943-), which refers to a story that belongs to the collection El Señor y lo demás, son cuentos from Clarín. To the north of the park, on the opposite sidewalk, you can see another half-abstract work by Miguel Berrocal, it is the Fruela I Torso.

© J.L.Nicolas


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