The city of Ourense, so artistic, has a weakness for sculpture. One way to get to know the city well is to take a tour of the most outstanding works, which tell us a lot about its history and character.
The first of all, the oldest, which made Ourense as a city of its time, is the one dedicated to Padre Feijoo, from 1887. It was held to commemorate the bicentennial of his birth, although its inauguration would be slightly delayed. It was made by Juan Soler y Dalmau, on a pedestal by the architect Zabala. The statue motivated the conditioning of the gardens in which it is located, as well as its name: Padre Feijoo Gardens. The bronze figure represents the intellectual with a pen in his right hand and the Universal Critical Theater in his left. To celebrate the first urban sculpture in the city, the inauguration was in style. Throughout the week there was a party, including a literary contest, chaired by Pardo Bazán, the premiere of the Orfeón Unión Ourensá, a gala ball… Quite an event in Ourense at the time.
Next to the gardens there is a much more recent sculpture, from 2002, also in bronze on a granite pedestal. It is O Mouchiño or Monument to the comic heroes, by Xaime Quessada: a faun playing the aulos on the back of an owl with outstretched wings. On the floor, small plaques with the names of trading cards and comics that fueled the imagination of postwargeneration. At that time, the children of Ourense, including Quessada himself, would gather right in this place to exchange their treasures.
The second oldest statue in the city, after Feijoo, is the one made in honor of Concepción Arenal. It is the work of Aniceto Marinas, and was inaugurated in the gardens of the Alameda in 1898. It presents the honoree standing, dressed in a simple dress and mantle, holding a pen and some sheets of paper, as if resting from writing. At the base, symbols of her work: chains and books. In this case, the inauguration was not as pompous as that of Padre Feijoo, due to the crisis of the time. It was originally located in the upper part of the Alameda, in the Obispo Cesáreo square, but in 1969 it was moved in front of the old courts, in the middle of traffic, and of great controversy, by the way. The worst of all was that with the move the granite and marble pedestal designed by Parada Justel disappeared, which has nothing to do with its replacement.
Two works by Luis Borrajo brought a new air to the city. One is the Casa da Nube, commissioned by Pepe Casabella for his remodeling of As Burgas in 1989. It is a constructivist work in corten steel that fits very well in that space with hot water and steam. According to the author, it symbolizes the union of the old and the new Ourense. His other sculpture is Muller espida, from 2002, which is in the Alameda. It is one of the few figurative works by Borrajo, which represents a bronze naked woman lying on a low stone base, as if she were on a towel on the beach, very close to the people.
And for close ones, the sculptures that mingle with passers-by, on a real scale. Wait a minute, are we in the 21st century or the 19th? What is that milkmaid doing here, selling milk in the capital? Well, when we see that it is all hard and made of bronze, we realize that it is A Leiteira by Ramón Conde, from 1999. The sculptor himself chose where to place it, at the intersection between the streets of the Paseo and that of the Architect Alejandro Outeiriño Rodríguez, due to the effects of light and the concurrence of people in the area.
The same author has another sculptural group perched on the ground, Coleman e Reverter, from 2010, a tribute to the creators of Rally de Ourense. They appear sitting on the nose of the famous Alpinche (Renault Alpine tuned with a Porsche engine) with which they competed many times. It is in the San Lázaro Park, in front of the Government Subdelegation. By the way, at one of the entrances to the park we have a large Anxo de Asorey, from 1951.
And we continue walking among the people and the statues. Be careful not to get lost, let’s not collide with O Carrabouxo, who is lost in thought reading the newspaper. Well thought out, it’s hard to trip, he’s quite tall and wears a yellow sweater that can be seen from afar. The work, made by César Lombera in 2002, pays homage to the character of Xosé Lois, who has given his humoristic view of the world in the local newspaper since 1982. A one hundred percent symbol of Ourense.
Another symbol of Ourense, the city of the magostos (roasted chestnuts), is the chestnut. With A Castañeira, installed on Curros Enríquez street in 2001, Xosé Cid pays homage to those women who sold chestnuts in the street, before the time of the locomotives. In the piece, in bronze on a small circular stone base, we see an old seller with a cone, some chestnuts in a basket, others in a drum and a stool. Mmm… how good they smell…
And we cannot say goodbye to Ourense without going through the Miño. In 2002, at the roundabout of Os Remedios, next to the Millennium Bridge, Nexus-6, a granite sculpture by Xosé Lois Carrera, was installed. It is a male torso coming out with effort from some stone blocks, as if being born or taking off from them, waking up. The title refers to the clever androids from Philip K. Dick’s novel, called “replicants” in the movie Blade Runner.