I have so many reasons to visit a museum, any museum indeed but inevitably all visits end in the bookstore. I am so an unapologetic seeker of rarity, fond of very simple books or catalogues (not really expensive but wonderfully illustrated) that have sometimes showed me the works of unexpected and unknown artists.
Among so many great books devoted to Pollock or Warhol it is feasible to find real gems. This happened to me one time in the astonishing bookshop of the Centro Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia. I found a small book about the British artist Rory McEwen (1932-1982); this is a catalogue published by the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh on the occasion of the exhibition of the works by McEwen that took place in 1988.
I found this book lost among hundreds of volumes and it immediately caught my eye because of its subject, the botanical paintings, (far from everything we can find in a modern museum such as the Reina Sofia Centre of Art). These watercolour paints featuring flowers, fruits, dried leaves are able to introduce a painter whose technique and sensitiveness are exquisite. I treasure this book and, from time to time, I study the drawings and though about the short and ephemeral time of this painter, still unknown for most of the people, who loved poetry and jazz.
I look at his works and recall Ramon Gaya’s words: “the soul belongs only to real things”.
Roderick McEwen, known as Rory McEwen, was a Scottish artist and musician. You can visit his website