The Thinking Machine, Ramon Llull and the ars combinatoria

Ramon Llull (1232-1315) was a Mallorcan philosopher, logician, writer and religious figure who published many texts that are still widely read to this day. Born to a wealthy Catalan family in Palma, he possessed a formidable intellect, working in Catalan, Latin, Arabic and Hebrew. He also created an innovative debating and reasoning tool called the ars combinatoria.

The ars combinatoria has lead some to pronounce LLull as the founder of modern computing. Its system of logic was the beginning of information science. The ars combinatoria was a paper machine made of concentric circles that rotated and, in doing so, combined symbols, which represented universal ‘truths’ about the world.

A renaissance man in pre-renaissance Europe, Llull’s concept of reality was formed by combining ideas from different fields such as philosophy, theology, science, politics, astronomy, medicine and law.

The use of this mechanism, and its aim to unify the various branches of knowledge, was intended to create peace between religions by means of deduction, demonstration and dialogue. This desire to create peace between religions was bron from the times Llull lived in, a time when Spain had recently expelled Jews and Muslims who refused to convert to Catholicism. His thinking clearly resonated through the ages in our own time.

A fascinating new exhibition at the CCCB combines historical documentation of Ramon Llull’s life with contemporary art pieces from artists who have been inspired by his work. It opens on the 14th of July and runs until the 11th of December and features work by artists including:

Arnold Schönberg, Athanasius Kircher, Bernat de Lavinheta, David Link, Francesc Pujols, Giordano Bruno, Gottfried Wilhem Leibniz, Agrippa von Nettesheim, Italo Calvino, Jacint Verdaguer, Jean-Jacques Grandville, Jeongmoon Choi, Joan Desí, Johann Heinrich Alsted, John Cage, Jorge Oteiza, José Luis Alexanco, José María Yturralde, Josep M. Subirachs, Josep Maria Mestres Quadreny, Josep Palau i Fabre, Josep Soler, Juan de Herrera, Juan Eduardo Cirlot, Manfred Mohr, Manuel Barbadillo, Marius Schneider, Miquel Bestard, Moses ben Jacob Cordovero, Nikolaus Joachim Lehmann, Perejaume, Philipp Goldbach, Pietro Mainardi, Rafael Isasi, Ralf Baecker, Ramon Llull, Raymond Queneau, Razen, Rosa Leveroni, Salvador Dalí, Sebastián Izquierdo, Semiconductor: Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, Valère Novarina, William Morris, Yehudá ha-Leví and Daniel V. Villamediana.

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Cinema Lliure a la Platja

One of a number of free summer activites in Barcelona, Cinema Lliure a la Platja (Free Cinema on the Beach) is opening for its 5th year running. Opening today, July the 7th, a variety of original independent films will be screened and entry is free.

Screenings take place on Sant Sebastià beach in the Barceloneta on Thursdays, and outside the city and along the coast on Platja de l’Estació, Badalona, Platja del Prat in El Prat and Platja del Varador, Mataró at the weekend.

With films from Spain, France, US, Mexico, Russia, Japan and more, all shown in their original version, you can expect to see something more thought provoking than the latest summer blockbusters.

The final showing is to be chosen by the public, who are offered the chance to vote for their favourite of five films. All screenings are free to attend, and are accompanied by music from iCAT, and start at 9pm.

Bring a long your favourite bottle of chilled wine, a blanket to sit on, and sit back and enjoy the summer!

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Top Girls

Top Girls is written by British playwright Caryl Churchill but has been translated into Catalan for this performance at the Teatre Akadèmia.

This thought-provoking play flips traditional gender positioning, offering a contemporary vision of the work place with women in the male roles.

Churchill delves into the territory of the sexual politics and gender roles that many people, men and women, never dare to question in modern society. Thereby, the characters in Top Girls collide with the preconceived roles that society generally expects of them, and include an executive director, a Victorian explorer, a Buddhist nun and even a young female posing as a male priest in the ninth century.

Performances take place from Wednesday to Saturday at 8.30pm and on Sundays at 6pm. Note that the show is in Catalan only.

More information –

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National Youth Orchestra of Catalonia

If you are looking for something to do on a Monday evening in July, the highly acclaimed JONC (National Youth Orchestra of Catalonia) will perform Beethoven’s symphony no. 9, Mahler’s symphony no. 10 and ‘March of the Priests’ from ‘The Magic Flute’ at Barcelona’s spectacular art nouveau Palau de la Música on the 11th of July.

The National Youth Orchestra of Catalonia (JONC) was founded in 1993 as JOSC (Jove Orquestra Simfònica de Catalunya), bringing together some of the finest young musical talent in the region. In 1999 it changed its name to JONC and the JONC Foundation was created in order to manage the increasing number of projects that were taking place within the orchestra.

As well as providing young Catalan musicians with high level orchestral training, JONC also collaborates actively in finding them work and attracting new audiences.

There are three different orchestras within the National Youth Orchestra of Catalonia Foundation. The JONC Alevins is for young musicians up to 18 years old. La JONC admits musicians up to 25 years old and its main goal is to provide an integral orchestral training. La JONC Filharmonia realises JONC’s artistic and educational aims through professional performances, with the aim of providing post academic training and transitioning musicians into their professional life.

JONC orchestras participate in many important Catalan festivals under the expert advice of conductors such as Josep Pons, Guy van Waas, Lutz Köhler, Salvador Mas, Ernest Martínez-Izquierdo, Jordi Mora, Paul Goodwin, Andrew Parrott, Antoni Ros-Marbà, Edmon Colomer and Karl Anton Rickenbacher.
The performance starts at 9pm and lasts approximately 2 hours. Tickets cost €20 and can be purchased online.

This is a wonderful chance to enjoy a professional classical performance in the atmospheric Palau de la Musica as well as to support the JONC and its development of new musical talent in Catalunya.

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Ramon Casas, Cartellista i el seu temps

This month the Reial Cercle Artístic de Barcelona (Royal Artistic Circle of Barcelona) opens a new exhibition Ramon Casas, Cartellista i el seu temps (Ramon Casas, poster illustrator and his times) with a retrospective of 53 art nouveau posters. Ramon Casas i Carbó (1866 – 1932) was one of the key figures involved in the development of the Catalan art nouveau movement.

The exhibition also includes graphic works by Rusiñol, Alexandre de Riquer, Adrià Gual, Antoni Utrillo Lluís Labarta. Its objective is to highlight the work of Ramon Casas, a major force in art nouveau – Catalan modernism, as a precursor of modern of graphic design and advertising through some of his most famous works, works such as ‘L’auca del senyor Esteve’, designs for the covers of Pèl i Ploma magazine or adverts he drew for Anís del Mono.

All of the exhibited works belong to the private collection of Marc Martí. The show’s commissioner, Marc Martinez, has noted that the same quality could not be reproduced now because modern printing techniques cannot match the intensity of the colours created by lithographic

This exhibition is being held by the Royal Artistic Circle as part of the celebration of ‘Casa Year’, the 150th anniversary of his birth.

The exhibition is taking place at 5 Calle Arcs, just a few metres from Barcelona’s Cathedral. It is open from 10am to 8pm, Monday to Sunday. Entry is free.

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New openings June 2016

It seems that every week there are new and exciting bar and restaurant openings in Barcelona. So we decided to round up some of the best here in our blog. This week we bring you Le Petit Brot and Imprfecto.

Le Petit Brot

The warm intimacy of Le Petit Brot gives you the sensation of being in a country kitchen, but in the centre of the Raval.

Le Petit Brot is a vegan juice and smoothy bar serving ‘living juices and foods’ with shelves lined with fresh wheatgrass and bean sprouts, it is clear that the produce here is fresh as well as organic. The organic ethos also influences the design of the space, which has been constructed and designed using recycled materials and natural paints.

A selection of daily dishes, homemade raw food snacks such as kale chips, sprout salads and even raw vegan cheesecake are also on offer.

Le Petit Brot. Doctor Dou 10.


Imprfcto is one of the most original new openings in a long time. A favela-inspired bar, with tables made from repurposed washing machines, a toilet door constructed from a British red telephone box as you enter the toilets, and a toilet used as cdecoration inside the bar.

It could havebeen designer by Renée Magritte so no surprise that the owner is Belgian artist Maxence Dopchie, who considered 20 different cities before he finally decided on setting up in Barcelona.

All beers are imported from Belgium, including Hoegaarden, Leffe and Trappist. The menu is also Belgian, with mussels, waffles, fries and sauces on offer.

This highly original Sant Antoni bar is an experience not to be missed.

Imprfcto. Paral•lel 104.

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Tardes Musicals D’Estiu 2016

The Barcelona Maritime Museum is located in the cities former shipyard, Drassanes, at the end of Las Ramblas and next to the old port. The museum offers a fascinating insight into the cities nautical history and ancient link with the sea and trade that dates back to Roman times.

This June, the Maritime Museum begins its annual cycle of musical summer evenings, where live music can be enjoyed in the calm and serenity of its delightful outdoor garden, a million miles from the hustle and bustle of las Ramblas that lies but a stone’s throw away.

Various English musicians will perform in a range of musical styles including jazz, blues and swing. Classics are reinterpreted in these performances, which feature classics, including music from Tom Jones, Nina Simone and Grease (1978). The season starts with a performance from the Jazz Society of University College London.

Concerts are held on June the 14th and 28th, and July the 4th 12th, 19th and 26th.

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156 Engravings, Museu Picasso

As well as perhaps the greatest painter and sculptor of the twentieth century, Pablo Picasso was also its foremost printmaker. His published prints total approximately 2000 different images pulled from metal, stone, wood, linoleum and celluloid.

In 1963 Picasso acquired a hand press at his home and studio in Mougins, where the artist had settled permanently. By then in his eighties, Picasso actively resumed etching and engraving and about 500 intaglio plated from this period of his career have been published. Finally, in 1972, a year before his death, Picasso etched two intaglio plates, his last prints.

These prints can be split into two groups, the second of which is currently on display at the Picasso Museum. Created between October 1968 and March 1972, the engravings explore the theme of eroticism that was so recurrent in his work. These are scenes of a fun, joyful and idle world, with an undercurrent of frustrated desire.

References to masters of the art world abound in these works, alluding to many of those great masters who continuously inspired Picasso over the span of his lifetime, including Rembrandt, Velázquez, Goya, Ingres, Delacroix, Manet and, in particular, Degas.

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El Divino Morales

An interesting new exhibition at the MNAC in Barcelona revealing the life and work of Spanish renaissance painter, Luis de Morales, opens this month.

The Italian Renaissance spread to Spain by the 15th century where it coincided with the unification of Spain, the conquest of the Moors at Granada and the subsequent expulsion of non-Christians and the inquisition.

Though the Spanish Renaissance is less widely known, it was a very important time culturally for Spain. Luis de Morales was a contemporary of the writer, Cervantes, who wrote Spain’s most famous masterpiece Don Quijote, and of the painter El Greco.

The work of Morales is best understood against the backdrop of the religious upheaval Spain was going through at this time, with the creation of a new unified Spanish Christian identity.

Known as ‘El Divino Morales’ (‘the divine Morales’) , his devotional paintings espouse the Christian faith, and were used as altarpieces and religious artworks for churches, monasteries and palaces. Morales’ work demonstrates realism and meticulous attention to detail, which itself reflects the religious enthusiasm of his day.

This collection of 54 paintings at the MNAC, which includes Morales’s most iconic work, the Virgin of the Bird (1546), is united by a certain melancholy to the scenes depicted.

Taking inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci, these works by Morales forgo background scenery and instead focus on the detailed portraiture of Saints, the Virgin Mary and other key religious figures.

Running from June the 17th to September the 25th, this delightful exhibition is a unique opportunity to see Morales’ work at the MNAC in Barcelona.

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Sala Montjuic

Following on from our last post about Summer Nights at the Castle we highlight another event held outdoors in the grounds of Montjuic Castle, the Sala Montjuic.

Every year in July, the former moat of Montjuïc Castle (it has been drained, fortunately) is converted into an outdoor cinema, hosting a series of world-class movies and wonderful live music concerts.

Sala Montjuic’s organisers describe the event thus: “A selection of the best movies of all time, with concerts, picnics and short films”. It is hard to find fault here. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in July, Sala Montjuic is screening a selection of films of all genres, from the classics to the latest international hits.

All films are movies are displayed on a huge screen in their original language with Spanish subtitles.

Performances are proceeded by a concert starting at 9pm, and the concert often has a theme to ties in with the movie that is about to be screened.

Curtains usually draw on the film itself at about 10 pm, when night falls over the city. Visitors can bring a picnic, or indulge in the local specialties and beers offered at food stalls.

With a authentic tranquil setting on Montjuïc away from the hustle and bustle, a laid-back summer vibe, and breathtaking views of Barcelona’s beautiful skyline, it is no wonder this open air cinema has become one of the season’s highlights.

For more information see

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