Miss W’s blog: The rise of the island’s art scene

I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like. Haven’t we all said that at some point? When I first moved to Ibiza, over a decade ago (how time flies!) I remember thinking that the island was distinctly lacking in art and culture – dance music culture and billboards aside of course – and that I couldn’t find any art at all, let alone art I liked. Fast forward to 2017 and the island’s art scene has gone from bleak to burgeoning to booming, with a host of gallery spaces, pop-up exhibitions, festivals and visiting artists showcasing works in Ibiza. Now, when it comes to looking for art I like, I feel like I am spoiled for choice.

Most recently, it was the work of renowned Venezuelan artist Diana Gomez that caught my attention – her amazing FREE WOMEN exhibition is currently being held at Pikes, in the lush green hills of San Antonio. Here’s what the press release (and numerous other magazines and websites) will tell you about the exhibition: It’s a feminist-driven and autobiographical show, made up of outdoor installations that are life-sized portraits of some amazing women (including some seriously famous faces), inspired by the artist’s own life and including many that have been used in famous brand advertising (think Nike, Lancome and Virgin). An ode to female empowerment. Sounds good, right?

Here’s what you can’t glean from a PR statement or any generic description of these works. The impact this exhibition has on you is jaw-dropping, from the very first photo you lay eyes on. There is such power in these photos, such drama, such emotion. Each work is presented in a lightbox, placed all over the grounds of the hotel, making viewing the collection a little like a trip down the rabbit hole – from lining the walls of the hot pink tennis court and the famous poolside terrace to being juxtaposed against the lush green lawns and even perfectly placed at the bottom of the iconic Pikes swimming pool. It’s adventurous, erotic, sensual, striking, unexpected, challenging, provocative and seriously, seriously impressive.

It was Gomez’s intention to create an exhibition with a difference – the London-based photographer steered away from traditional galleries, knowing they didn’t resonate with her own philosophy or style. Ibiza is an island bursting with creativity, and with many creative women at that, and with one of the island’s most creative faces behind Pikes (co-founder and creative director Dawn Hindle), the perfect setting was right here all along. Now, as I said earlier, I don’t know much about art so I am not going to attempt to critique it here, but I do know what I like and now I can happily say Diana Gomez is on that list.

Limited edition prints of some of the works are for sale (onsite at Pikes and also on Diana Gomez’s website, for those who can’t make it to the island to view the exhibition personally), as are the outdoor freestanding billboard works and a percentage of the price will be donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust – meaning this is also art with a heart, for Gomez has long been a supporter of charity.

Pikes has long been known for supporting artists; from the amazing hand-painted Rory Dobner murals on the wall and the striking neon installations throughout the hotel, to prints by local photographer Jerome and exceptionally styled rooms by Rockett St George, it’s no surprise it was recently named one of the top six art hotels in the world by the prestigious Country & Town House. The introduction of Diana Gomez’s works to the grounds has cemented its place on the island’s art scene. If you’re here before September 30, 2017, you should make it a must-visit on your Ibiza holiday itinerary – by the way, it’s free!

Another of this year’s huge contributions to Ibiza’s art scene came courtesy of renowned New York art collector Lio Malca – who is also a long-term island visitor. Having taken over La Nave, the old salt mill warehouse space at the very end of Las Salinas a little over two years ago, this year he injected it with a serious dose of modern art, bringing four enormous installations by the late great US artist Keith Haring to the space: the famously immersive Pop Shop Tokyo, an untitled five-panel mural that was originally an iconic work in the Bay Area of San Francisco, Channel Surf Club – a mural on a container that was once used to house surfboards in Belgium and a sculpture depicting a breakdancer in a headstand.

Entrance to La Nave is also free, as one of Malca’s primary objectives was to give the general public more access to the world’s best art – he strongly believes it should not be the domain of the rich. He sees the ongoing development of La Nave (in addition to some other outdoor spaces) as a place where he can give thanks to the people of an island which has given him so much joy over many years. And for that, Señor Malca, we salute you!

Educating little ones about the importance of art is also part of Malca’s island initiative. During the summer, kids’ workshops are held at La Nave, where children participate in street art classes with renowned artists such as HOSH, and can play amongst the world class installations of Keith Haring rather than being held at arm’s length from the art. Art collector Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil, co-founder and owner of HEART Ibiza and another long-term island dweller is another who believes children should be indoctrinated into the world of art from an early age. His own Ibiza Arts Project – which includes the art space of the same name in Ibiza’s industrial area, on the outskirts of Ibiza town and Lune Rouge Sculpture Park on the grounds of his private estate in Cala Conta – invites children from local schools to visit the spaces and learn more about the creativity and genius behind many of the truly incredible works on display.

Ibiza Arts Project is open to one and all, with a rotating roster of big name international artists exhibiting all year round. At this point in time, Lune Rouge is a private sculpture park (with entrance by invitation only, such as with the aforementioned local schools), however one sculpture, Time & Space – The Speed of Light by Australian sculptor Andrew Rogers is set off the grounds of the villa and accessible to one and all. You may have heard it referred to as ‘Ibiza-henge’, as the piece bears a similar appearance to the famous Stonehenge and forms a Fibonacci sequence. On the winter solstice, groups make the (easy!) pilgrimage to its Cala Conta cliffside location to watch in awe as the sun strikes the 23-carat gold tip of the highest column. Another must-do to add to your Ibiza list.

Laliberté has plans to relocate the sculpture park to another island location and open it to the public in the future, however if you do want a sneak peek in the meantime, pick up a copy of the latest edition of WHITE Ibiza Magazine, where we were fortunately given access (with a camera!) to this amazing space. With some sculptures towering at a few storeys high, another made out of hundreds of intricate pieces crafted together to create an almost natural looking tree and even more showing Laliberté’s penchant for works with a definite sense of humour, it is at once humbling and inspiring to be surrounded by such great work.

This is just a snippet of the art on display in Ibiza these days. We also have the annual Urban in Ibiza festival at Agroturismo Atzaró – one of the original champions of the island’s art scene – and the cutting-edge Bloop Festival, which (amongst many other things) has seen an array of eye-catching murals popping up on formerly bland walls and spaces all across the island. My personal favourite are the two colourful pieces by Mexican street artists Spaik in the dark tunnel that connects Los Molinos and Ibiza town. Fortunately for me, I get to pass by on a daily basis (it’s the last remaining free parking area in Ibiza town – but shhh! Don’t tell anyone) and I am constantly amazed at how these seemed to spring up overnight – the first in 2016, the second just a few months ago.

Then there are the gallery spaces, truly brimming with so much creativity from Ibiza, mainland Spain and all over the world. Parra y Romero, Galeria Micus, the all-new LC Gallery, B12 The Gallery and of course, the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo in Dalt Vila. There are so many up and coming local artists now being given the opportunity to show their works in public spaces such as OD Hotel Ocean Drive, Gran Hotel Montesol or El Hotel Pacha among many others. And then, if you’re lucky enough, you may be invited inside the homes of some of the island’s most highly regarded art collectors – from original old masters to Andy Warhol, Murakami and beyond, the calibre of art in Ibiza is well and truly world class.

Of course, as much as I confess to like it, not much of this art is within my humble budget. I mean, not only do I not have the space to display a Jenny Holzer or a Diana Gomez in my little apartment, I also don’t have the means (yet!). But one thing is for sure – I’m extremely grateful that thanks to a handful of visionary island taste makers, I no longer have to get on a plane to enjoy them.

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