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Traditional Spanish Feria Lanterns have Gibraltarian Ancestry

Soraya Fernández · Fotos: Reach y Fran Montes

The Paper Lanterns of the Feria have Gibraltarian Ancestry:
Gustavo Bacarisas

Gibraltarian painter Gustavo Bacarisas (1873-1971) designed the traditional Seville Feria paper lanterns as well as the ‘pañoletas’ that adorn the stalls. This year, the fair’s Main Entrance paid tribute to him.

No Andalusian fair worth its salt can be without the traditional and colourful festive lanterns but, did you know that the person behind the ingenious design was an artist from Gibraltar?

His name was Gustavo Bacarisas, who was born on the Rock in 1873 and died in Sevilla at the age of 98. According to ABC Sevilla, the city’s Town Hall commissioned a lantern design to be displayed on all the streets throughout the feria, with the purpose of unifying the aesthetics of the fair grounds.

The ABC article, written by Javier Macías, points out that the Gibraltarian painter Gustavo Bacarisas designed a decorative illumination system based on Chinese lanterns at the beginning of the 20th century, which resulted in the paper lanterns that adorn every Andalusian fair to this day.

Seville April Feria - Gustavo Bacarisas

This was not the only contribution the Gibraltarian artist made to the Sevilla April Feria. This year marks a century since Bacarisas’ other lasting contribution: In 1919, he designed the stands’ ‘pañoletas’; a painted wooden design that is placed on the upper part of the fairgrounds’ kiosks.

Seville April Feria - Gustavo Bacarisas

This led to a fundamental change in the design and decoration of the Seville Feria’s stands. It is something so important and cultural that the Seville Town Hall has laid down the required measurements and ornamentations of these in its ordinances.

It has been exactly a century since the idea that forever changed the aesthetics of the April Fair was introduced. And, since we can’t celebrate a centenary every day, the Seville City Council wanted to pay tribute to the Gibraltarian painter, who was also given the title of ‘The Adopted Son of Seville’ in 1919. For this purpose, a space was reserved to commemorate Bacarisas and his work at the Main Entrance of the 2019 feria.

Seville April Feria - Gustavo Bacarisas

The Main Entrance of the Seville April Fair 2019 was titled ‘Sevilla, a stage for art, culture and history’. It was created by Ángelo Gonzáles Carvalho and was inspired by the Seville Pavilion at the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929.

This is one of the most emblematic buildings of the Andalusian capital and it comprises of the Exhibition Casino and the Lope de Vega Theatre. The competition rules stated that the design should be inspired by the Expo 1929 and Aníbal González.

Seville April Feria - Gustavo Bacarisas

The Seville City Hall produced the decorative medallions to commemorate the First Circumnavigation of the Globe by Magallanes and Elcano, in addition to the painter Gustavo Bacarisas. His name can be found in these medallions, which are painted over the surface of the towers.

The Entrance was 50 metres wide by 37,27 meters high – an impressive structure that was illuminated with almost 25,000 bulbs, welcoming people to a Fair that, gave a nod and a wink to Gibraltar through one of its most famous sons.

The Paper Lanterns of the Feria have Gibraltarian Ancestry:
Gustavo Bacarisas

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