August 03, 2013

Francisco González Grajera, El capricho de Cotrina / Cotrina's whimsy

picture by Gotardo González licensed under 
Creative Commons 

Above depicted  house, located in Los Santos de Maimona (Extremadura, Spain), is a marvel of form and decoration.

Life and works

Francisco González Grajera (1926-2016) in 1989, so when he was in his early sixties, began constructing a (second) house on a plot of land in the outskirts of the community of Los Santos de Maimona.

From age eighteen on he had worked as a mason in construction, so building a house was not unknown to him.

this picture and the next ones are 
screenprints from the Capricho de Cotrina video below

To please one of his daughters he gave the house a fairytale appearance. In some early sketches which have been preserved, he showed that the most important characteristic of his construction would be its one and all round shapes.

And indeed, the currently largely completed structure has almost exclusively round shapes.

But there is a second element that makes the construction particular.

Grajera has abundantly decorated interior and exterior with brightly colored mosaic, mainly derived from broken plates (pique assiette, or in Spanish: trencadis).

In Spain this almost immediately implies associations with Gaudi. However, Grajera has said that he had never heard of Gaudi, not at school and not later when he was a bricklayer.

When Grajera visited Barcelona in later years, he very much liked Gaudi's creations, but as he said, Gaudi didn't have to pile stones and fit the decorative mosaics, as he himself had to do....

When he still had his job, Grajera was active in constructing and decorating the house during the evenings, the weekends and in his free time. Once retired he was engaged full time.

In the course of the years the site has become well known, also because of articles in Spanish journals and programs on TV.

In 2006 the local authorities ruled that Grajera had to halt his construction work, arguing that he did not qualify as an architect.  In 2011 however, a new administration was elected and this one ruled that Grajera could continue his activities, which he did with verve.

Francisco González Grajera passed away on September 19, 2016.

Situation of the site in 2021

The picture above was made in November 2021 by Tiramisu Bootfighter, who traveled through Spain in the context of his project La Valise, Galerie Ambulante. It shows that the site, cared for by Grajera's sons, currently is still in a great condition.

* Official website
* Facebook page
* Article (December 31, 2012) on the Extremadura website
* The site got a scholarly review in: Jo Farb Hernandez, Singular Spaces. From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments, Seattle (Raw Vision, SPACES, San José State University), 2013. A short version of this review on SPACES website, with a wealth of pictures
* Pictures on the weblog of Sophie Lepetit: the interior, the exterior (April 2023)

* Video by Capricho de Cotrina (YouTube, 7'55", November 2012)

first published August 2013, revised April 2023

Francisco González Grajera
El capricho de Cotrina 
Carretera Ex 368
Los santos de maimona, Badajoz, 
Extremadura, Spain
can be visited, see official website
    view from the ex-101 highway

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