August 09, 2015

José Prades Ceuma, Prades' decorated built structure

pictures (2015) are screenprints from the video by Serflac
(see documentation), published here in agreement
with the author of the video

Above picture shows a built structure, that can be seen from the road near the community of Gandesa in Spanish Alta Terra, the hinterland of Tarragona in the Catalonia region in Spain. The site isn´t identified with a specific name, so in this post I refer to it as Prades' decorated built structure ¹

Life and works

José Prades Ceuma (1938-2006) was a farmer who in 1998 began to expand a building on his farmland, transforming it in the course of the following years into an art environment, a built, decorated structure with a surface of some 45 by 32 m (136x104 ft).

He was born in the community of Gandesa into a religious family convinced of the value of traditional belief systems. His family. other than most people around in Catalonia, supported Francoism. As an adult Prades also honored this ideas, so he fell into an isolated position and became a bitter, suspicious man, who nevertheless in a modern way conducted his farm work, for example being the first in his region to buy and use a tractor.

The structure which Prades began to realise when he was around age sixty, appears to be intended primarily as a carrier of religious testimony, of homages to the old days of Spain and of personal notes about his life and belief.

Above picture shows the tower and the wall at the northern facade of the building with an inscription saying
La Mare Deo de la Fancalde de Gandesa
José Prades Ceuma
Santa Cristina
Lo Die 24 de Julio 1938
A la pasade del Ebro 65 años

(The Mother of God of the Hot Springs of Gandesa/José Prades Ceuma/Santa Cristina/
The day July 24, 1938/At the passing of the Ebro 65 years).

The small towery structures on top of the wall, consisting of a quadrangular base, a sphere and a cone, together with the triangular shields are the main sculptural elements of this site. 

The text on above blue shield reads:
En Memori
Del ano 2000
De José
Higo de Dios

(In memoriam/To God/From the year 2000/From José/Son of God)

an overview of the site from the south

When Prades died in 2006, the site was still in full development. In 2006 it mainly consisted of partly painted walls, decorated with flowery motives, inscriptions, pylons or shields. 

The interior space already was divided into several rooms and smaller spaces, but none of the places was covered with a roof, nor was the ground surface provided with floors or pavements.

Prades may have had grand ideas about the further development of the site. For example already manufactured gutters along the roof line of the building indicate possible creation of waterworks (with which Prades in his activities as a farmer already was familiar). 

Prades never married and had no children. He had a brother and a sister, but it is not known if they still were alive when he died and could be his inheritors.

After Prades passed away the site isn't being cared for any more and it is gradually falling into decay. Given Prades' not so positive reputation among people around, it is not likely that residents will take action to preserve this art environment.

* Article by Jo Farb Hernandez on the website of SPACES (an abridged version of her scholarly review of the site in: Jo Farb Hernandez, Singular Spaces. From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments, Seattle (San José State University), 2013, pp. 288-295
* More pictures (November 2017) on Amajaiak's website 

* Scenes of the site (2015) on the Provincia de Tarragona trip video by Serflac (YouTube,
starts at 14.28, cannot be embedded here)

¹  note
To my knowledge the only source with respect to José Prades Ceuma is Jo Farb Hernandez (see documentation), so I like to acknowledge that this post draws upon Jo's research 

José Prades Ceuma
Decorated built structure
Gandesa, Catalonia, Spain
abandoned and in decay, can be seen from the road

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