Message from the President

The year 2021 has been, in many senses, a year of returns: the return of face-to-face activities has certainly made us give much more importance to what we used to consider to be trivial or everyday things. New faces have been added to our usual audience, but the most important thing is that we have found everyone more enthusiastic. This energy that people have conveyed to us, and which we have hopefully been able to match, cannot fail to be mentioned, however difficult it may be to quantify, among the milestones of the year.

In tune with this collective experience I mentioned at the beginning of these lines, our first exhibition was precisely a reflection on the social being of man, so inherent to the quality of being human. But, alongside this more transcendent line, we also wanted to contribute the more exultant aspects of art, and this led us to bring to Galicia the childlike gaze of a 20th-century classic: Joan Miró. His special connection with children, whose lack of perplexity in the face of an aesthetic that challenges adults is impressive, perhaps compensated for the restrictions on didactics that still remained.

Another exciting reunion was provided by the cycle on Velázquez. This painter of painters was the most appropriate for the return of our conferences. Velázquez has linked us to the Prado Museum since the artist’s centenary, when we organised the first cycle, named after its first organiser, Francisco Calvo Serraller. Once again, we were honoured by the participation of the Duke of Soria in the opening event.

Our link with the Portico of Glory, one of the Foundation’s most ambitious projects, with the strongest connexion to our own history, had a wonderful ambassador this year: the book Pórtico de la Gloria: una Restauración. We always knew that telling the story of the project was one of its inescapable chapters and we knew that we had to tell it in our own way: the result is a work that, more than explaining, shows and recounts not only the marvel of the Portico and the marvel of its restoration, but also its very essence as a work that unites the past, the present and the future, the public and the private, patronage and the responsibility of governmental agencies, art and science. That is why we wanted to link this book to the name of our unforgettable president, Carmela Arias, and so we have dedicated it to her.

Speaking of patronage, the Foundation also has a mission to facilitate philanthropic actions and, thanks to the generosity of the Soldevila Trías family, we were able to bring to Galicia yet another work by one of our most outstanding painters: Sotomayor. It is a magnificent portrait that was donated by the sitter’s family, under the conditions of ensuring its preservation and facilitating its dissemination.

As the public returned to our premises, our virtual presence, which had boomed during the lockdown, underwent a predictable and reasonable readjustment. We believe, in any case, that this period helped us to increase the depth of our actions and our audience’s loyalty, as well as to refine our capacity to respond to events.

Some things, such as grant interviews, still had to be done, of course, along the lines set by the pandemic. However, this online work experience was also, as I said, a test from which we came out satisfied.

But, in addition to returns and continuities, we have opened up new paths. Since the end of the year, we have had another member in our corporate governance body, Francisco Martelo Villar, who reinforces the presence of the sciences in the Board of Trustees.

In education, a project was undertaken around drones which focused on schoolchildren and took the competitive form that is so stimulating for young people. It is no longer a question of making our young people simply more skilled, but more aware of technology, because without this awareness they will be no more than mere instruments—we are all at risk of being so—of the technological revolution.

Technology, which was already one of the Foundation’s concerns in its early days, with pioneering actions in distance education and to try to bridge the gap that has also led to social difference since even before we got used to the Anglicism gap, is also at the centre of one of the social action programmes we have created: the new phenomena of social media are not only a source of advantages for a generation that is certainly more skilled at using them than ours, but perhaps less equipped to know that there are threats that are no less harmless when moving from the real to the virtual world.

I cannot say goodbye without remembering fondly a person who was for many years a member of our Board of Trustees and who always shared the Foundation’s concerns. María Luisa Martínez Poch, who passed away just at the beginning of this year 2022 in which I am writing these lines, who felt both our successes and our difficulties as her own, would have liked, I think, to see her name once again attached to the milestones of our report. Let these words be a small acknowledgement.


José María Arias Mosquera

President, Barrié Foundation