Alcazar, 2009, watercolour on chalk and ink
Seville’s Alcazar, although smaller and less coherent than the Alhambra in Granada, is a fascinating synthesis of Christian and Islamic architecture. Constructed from the tenth century onwards, the Alcazar has been expanded or reconstructed many times over the centuries and, today, it still functions as a royal palace. As with many buildings in Andalusia, the decoration is lavish and all-encompassing. Key to the Alcazar’s decorative impact is a constant play between surface and depth: in the tiles that adorn almost every surface making flat space seem deep; and in the interlocking geometric patterns in domes and ceilings that make depth seem flat. The result is a dynamic architecture that plays on the viewers’ perception, one that tells stories through space. Extraordinary to think that such an architecture was only ever meant to be have been experienced by a tiny elite. Its democratization through mass tourism has transformed – perhaps even redeemed – its basis in an extreme concentration of power.
Decorative tiles in the gardens of the Alcazar, Seville
Dome in the Palacio de Don Pedro, Alcazar, Seville