Mourning Francisco González Gragera, creator of Capricho de Cotrina

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Francisco González Gragera, Capricho de Cotrina (“Cotrina’s Whimsy”)

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Visiting Information

The Capricho may be seen from the road.

About the Artist/Site

In 1988, stonemason Francisco González Grajera began building his architectural sculptural fantasy near Los Santos de Maimona (Badajoz), Spain as a country home for himself and his family. In contrast to the sober, rectilinear work of his weekday vocation, his Capricho is fronted by an undulating fence of vertical projections. Three organically crenellated towers, sheathed in bright, broken tile (trencadís), melt into asymmetrical cylinders that are punctuated by irregularly shaped windows and encircled by a curved exterior staircase. A separate wing, conceptualized as a “worm,” branches off to form the master bedroom area. All surfaces are ornamented, inside and out, and there is rarely a straight line anywhere to be found.

González Grajera’s architectural whimsy celebrates personal dreams as well as local topography. Yet it also contains images that represent painful personal and cultural memories, including deprivations that followed the Civil and World Wars.  In 2006, after more than two decades of building, the municipal government demanded that González Grajera “re-qualify” himself as an architect or engineer—neither of which he pretends to be, as he only attended school until age 13—and without such documentation, was ordered to stop work. Today he builds somewhat surreptitiously, hoping to complete his vision while avoiding battles with the municipality. The Capricho may be seen from the road, but the artist usually welcomes visitors if he is working on site.

~Jo Farb Hernández

Update: In 2011 a new administration was voted into power in Los Santos de Maimona, lifting the restrictions that had been placed on González’s constructions. He immediately began working on exterior enhancements to the property as well as continuing to finesse the interior: he completed the exterior decoration of the winding hallway out to a new master bedroom, for example, and added major new components in the yard, including an outdoor kitchen/barbecue area with elaborate trencadís decoration.
 
On September 19, 2016, González unexpectedly was stricken by a heart attack and passed away without finishing his masterpiece. His son, Roberto, who had helped him in the past, vowed to continue to work on the Capricho and ultimately to complete it in a manner that would make his father proud.



SPACES Archive Holdings

The SPACES archive includes Angel Salas Tavero’s self-published and undated brochure, “!Bienvenidos! al capricho de COTRINA,” the entry writer’s article in Raw Vision 64 (Fall 2008), correspondence with the artist and government officials, and extensive photo documentation of the site from 2003 – 2011.

Map and site information

Not Exact Address
Los Santos de Maimona, Extremadura, Spain
Latitude/Longitude: 38.449081 / -6.384166

Visiting Information

The Capricho may be seen from the road.

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