Noches en los jardines de España (Nights in the Gardens of Spain) was first exhibited as part of the project El despertar (The Awakening), which took place in 2020, at La Casa Encendida, curated by José Esparza Chong Cuy. It consists of a series of concrete molds of hand-painted oranges, which unlike their emblematic image of incorruptibility, have been overtaken by a process of decay.
The title of the work is taken from a piece of music by Manuel de Falla, considered by many to be one of the greatest Spanish composers. It describes the gardens of the Generalife of the Alhambra Palace and the gardens of the Sierra de Cordoba, among which is the Patio de los Naranjos, a tree that became one of the protagonists of Spanish-Islamic gardening (both for its beauty and its qualities). In 1939, after Francisco Franco’s victory in the Spanish Civil War, de Falla left Spain for Argentina, where he lived the rest of his life in self-imposed exile.
The musical composition was proposed as an accompanying melody to the Hexagons Pavilion by architects José Antonio Corrales and Ramón Vázquez Molezún during its presentation as the Spanish Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels Universal Exposition, but was not selected. Awarded the Expo 58 Gold Medal for its architecture, the building became a reference of modern Spanish architecture. However, after being installed back in Spain, in the Casa de Campo in Madrid, its state of deterioration worsened due to disuse, until it ended up in a state of ruin. Using heterotopia as a starting point, Urbano simulates the ruined Pavilion in the exhibition space, reactivating it through scenes that seem to have already occurred.
“Like a strange dream that seems to have no end, El despertar revives a building whose life seems to have already expired. With an immersive installation composed of fragments that make up the body of a building, a forgotten property is reactivated to provoke speculative thought about its past and future.”
As in the rest of the installation, the oranges remain in a liminal moment, somewhere between life and death, reflecting the complexity of the situation in Spain during that period. Like a mirror to the inexorable passage of time and the fragility of life, they contribute to the constitution of a garden that seems to have been born as a consequence of neglect. The pavilion is abandoned, so there is no need to remove the plants that grow in it, but no one takes care to keep them alive. Nature conquers the space and the moment; undefined, and conveys the reality of something that in the past was booming, but whose current presence is translated into oblivion.
Since its first presentation in El despertar, Noches en los jardines de España has been part of other projects such as the exhibition ¡Doblad mis amores!, curated by Chus Martínez, at Collegium, in the Church of San Martín de Arévalo, Ávila. It features works by 6 Spanish artists whose choice at the time of production was determined by the relevance of the rural context that encompasses the exhibition. On this occasion, the installation consists of 160 elements, giving the impression that there was once an orange grove, now replaced by the floor of the church. Once again, Urbano takes the viewer into a game between reality and fiction, reflecting the versatility of space versus time through a trail of oranges that are sometimes moldy. In this way, issues such as the inevitability of decay due to the passage of time, the power of imagination and the cognitive process of association result.