Places of Interest: Xicu’s Forest

On a recent trip to Spain we decided to take a day to visit the work of unusual artists in Catalonia. One of the artists we chose was Francesc Cabanyes i Collell, who is an erotic sculptor. His more than 100 works, most of them his, but some from other artists, are scattered in an outdoor gallery in what is called the Bosc de Can Ginebreda or Xicu’s Forest. It is located 1 1/2 hours from the French Border and is near Banyoles off 524. Be sure to have three 1-euro coins per person, as that is the only denomination of coin the turn style will take to enter; and allow at least one hour, though we took more like two-hours as we took our time and photographed a lot.

We meandered along the dirt and grassy paths and trimmed grassy knolls, under boughs of trees, coming upon at every turn genitalia inspired gems. The forested park climbs and dips, paths criss-cross up and down, providing a natural backdrop for Cabanye’s sensual statuary. Huge and soaring phalluses, enfolding vulvas, backward body parts, pillars with lips, walls of buttocks, bountiful breasts, divided bodies, women and men sharing a body, and pregnant women. Some are not sensual, but more political, like the pile of clay heads with a starred sphere and rocky pillar of Chernobyl, the spaceship, or the tall dove staring skyward in hope on the edge of a ridge.

Some pieces are geometric, and others curvy, a few body parts are natural in appearance, but most present a bizarre and eccentric expression. Sometimes the pieces convey the artist’s feelings about life and death, as the bust of a woman with large breasts, her hands holding a small pool of water, but skulls line the base of her belly, and his tree of clay hanging famous heads of history. A psychologist would have a field day delving into Cabanye’s mind, but it is best to simply observe and see what feelings are evoked, or stand back and sense the aversion as well as the beauty of where a mind can go. It is an erotic encounter of the sculptural kind, and well worth the adventure.

There is also an artist studio on the hillside. Peak in and see what works are being currently constructed. When done, exit and visit the restaurant that has the nearest facilities, an amazing view from their back balcony, and more erotic art on their walls.