With Colita, the 'Gauche Divine' never ends

La Gauche Divine

Mathilde Brodu
Head of the Culture Program

Manel Jiménez
Vice-Rector for Educational Transformation, Culture and Communication

 

It all started with a suitcase. More than a suitcase, it was a sort of big box with rubber wheels, a wooden box with a label stuck on one of the sides that said "COLITA". 

That day we were consulting our friend and graphic designer Francesc Polop about an exhibition project based on material from students of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) about the Bauhaus school. We discussed different possibilities, budgets and graphic solutions while our gaze traveled through Francesc's studio, full of photos, small sculptures and fireproof shelves. We remember perfectly well when we asked him: "And what is this Colita? His answer was very straightforward: "an exhibition

Colita introduces us to her friends, who were oblivious to the fame that would eventually make them icons of a generation

And so, preparing the exhibition "Bauhaus, the melting pot of modernity" (currently at the Poblenou Campus and, very soon, at the Ciutadella Campus), we decided to turn it into a transportable exhibition in a kind of wooden suitcase, already thinking about the next one -transportable, too, in her private suitcase-, full of Colita's photos. 

Origin of the exhibition

The exhibition "Who is the Gauche Divine?" began in the heart of another. While we were talking about Mies van der Rohe, portraits of Eugenio Trias, Juan Marsé, Joan Manel Serrat and many other inescapable figures of the social, political, intellectual, artistic life -in short, everything known as cultural life- of the Barcelona of the 1970s appeared.

Joan de Sagarra, inspired by the old Parisian environments of the Quartier Latin, located on the "rive gauche" of the Seine, used the expression "Gauche Divine" for the first time to refer to these people. At that time, one of the trendiest places in Barcelona was Bocaccio, a nightclub that soon became a meeting point for all kinds of figures. 

In 1917, the Salle Aixelà organized the original exhibition under the ironic name "La Gauche qui rit" (The laughing left), playing with provocation. The exhibition opened, but the next day it was closed by the police. The use of the word "gauche" (left) and the characters on display seemed too subversive in the aftermath of Franco's regime. 

Portrait of an era

The exhibition presented about 70 portraits, all of them of friends and acquaintances. Colita gives in them testimony of the trajectory of the most well-known personalities of those times in the Barcelona environment. His photographs show us now how they were then, when they were not even what they have become. She brings them closer to us through an amusing look, far from archetypes and staging. Colita introduces us to his friends, oblivious to the fame that would eventually turn them into icons.

La Gauche Divine is a milestone in the recent Spanish history of resistance to Franco's regime and censorship

Today, the "Gauche Divine" is a reference, a milestone in recent Spanish history, an intellectual emblem of what it meant to resist Franco's regime, censorship, what it meant to create in spite of repression or to search outside the established limits for the conditions for the work of art. 

Bocaccio also represented - it is almost needless to say - the fun and nonconformism of a certain social class, precisely at a time when this concept of class was at the center of political discourses inspired by Marxism. It is true that the "Gauche Divine" evokes a way of being, left-wing, without renouncing what we could call a certain pretentiousness, even if this is a pretentiousness with little money!

Lessons from Colita

The lesson from Colita, photographer and testimony of her friends' trajectory, has values that any school or educational community can easily appropriate: work, work and work; try to earn enough money to continue doing what you believe in; do not give in to threats or pressures; have fun learning; adapt to circumstances, technologies, working conditions; do not be prejudiced. 

The lessons from Colita, his endearing energy or his bad temper give us value clues: to form a personality and to love your friends. 

Our small sample, an exceptional testimony of an era, is a great sample of art, of humanity. One of the most recognized photographers in the world offering us the possibility to laugh at ourselves, to look beyond the clichés we associate with celebrities. We find in the subtle and unmistakable atmosphere of her portraits an innocent insolence at the service of the depth of emotions. 

The "Gauche Divine" comes to university

The exhibition was created from a wooden suitcase with wheels, thanks to which it will be able to circulate and visit all the campuses of the university. The tour starts at UPF-BSM and will travel through Campus Mar, Campus Poblenou and Campus Ciutadella. With it, the "Gauche Divine" gang never ends!

In the entrance hall of the UPF Barcelona School of Management you will find, in the last panel, a QR code to discover other photographs in digital format. 

You can visit part of the virtual exhibition, here