Monday, September 18, 2023

Art in Mallorca


The gem of the Mediterranean sea, the largest of the Balearic Islands is best known for its sun, its nature, its beaches, its unspoilt coves and its small villages. Its cultural and architectural heritage, much more discreet, is nevertheless very rich. If the sea, the people, their dialects and customs, as well as gastronomy are part of the daily delights of Majorcan life, art, architecture and crafts also have an essential place. A real heaven for creators, the island has hosted "Art Night" in Palma since 1997. The event, particularly popular with amateurs and professionals, enlivens the entire historic center over a long weekend (which begins on the third Thursday in September): galleries and museums are open until late to the public; artists and pop-ups take over workshops, shop windows, restaurants, bars, roofs of buildings; when curators organize guided tours... 

Fondation Pilar and Joan Miró

Since 2004, the Art Palma Contemporani association has orchestrated this Art Night, as well as the Art Palma Brunch in the spring, which brings together a large number of galleries revealing their new exhibitions and offers an abundant supply of outdoor art. The still significant presence of a painter such as Joan Miró (1893-1983) is another sign of the importance of art in Palma. Half-Catalan, half-Mallorcan, he moved there in 1956, at the age of 63. His mark is everywhere, between sculptures and frescoes that the artist offered to the city. Inaugurated in 1981, the Pilar i Joan Miró foundation has thus endowed the capital with a teeming cultural center where the painter's career is honored with no less than 6,000 works (paintings, drawings, etc.). The building was designed by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. Another must-see is the artist Antonio Gaudí, responsible in 1903 for the (unfinished) renovation of La Seu Cathedral. In the Chapel of San Pedro, the 300 square meter ceramic mural, made between 2001 and 2006 by Miquel Barceló, is impressive. 

Es Raco d'Arta

Majorca still hides many other gems. Thus Studio Weil, dedicated to the American artist Barbara Weil (1933-2018), in Port d'Andratx, where she lived from 1972. The place, all curves and concentric circles, was designed by the architects Daniel Libeskind and Jaime Vidal Contesti. A little further inland, the CCA Andratx, the largest contemporary art center on the island, and one of the largest in Europe 4,000 square meters shared between an exhibition hall, art gallery and café, has also hosted artists in residence since 2001.

Thus Studio Weil in Port d'Andratx

In Alcudia, in the north of Majorca, the Museo Sa Bassa Blanca delights lovers of art, architecture and nature. The garden, where one could spend hours, houses more than 100 varieties of old roses and an animal park of granite works. The place also includes an observatory from which you can admire various installations, a library with more than 7,000 works, etc. A total art concept for this building, the main part of which was designed by the Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy (1900-1989). 

Museo Sa Bassa Blanca

The houses of the Dane Jorn Utzon (1918-2008), famous in particular for having designed the Sydney Opera House, are also worth seeing: Ca'n Lis (1972), a family summer house with a sea view that he had to abandon it as it attracted curious people and lovers of architecture, now hosts the Utzon Foundation, which organizes, among other events, workshops and residencies for artists and architects for nine months of the year. Can Feliz (1994), also built using traditional Mallorcan construction methods and local materials, is located in the mountains, but its location has remained a secret ever since. In the heart of the old town, Ca’n Vivot already seduces from the outside, thanks to its magnificent patio. Once inside, you enter a palace whose last renovation dates from the 18th century. The only concession to modernity is that electricity has been installed in each room, lit by elegant Murano chandeliers. The library and common areas have been honored by visits from kings and queens from Spain and Europe, but also from Japanese emperors and Indian maharajas. The city-owned Palau Solleric is now an exhibition center. Its architecture and facade, in Italian style, are remarkable. A former palace turned theater, Rialto Living is now a store, exhibition center and café. The Palau March, for its part, displays sculptures by Henry Moore, Auguste Rodin, etc.

Ca'n Lis 

But these days, the new architectural gems are the hotels designed by local builders. For example, Es Racó d'Artà, by Antoni Esteva: in a spectacular setting, in the heart of the vast natural park of the península de Llevant, on the wild east coast, the place, which offers spa, infinity pools, guided hikes , yoga classes and daily workshops (beekeeping, art therapy, etc.), invites you to reconnect and find inner calm. Designed by Sergi Bastidas, Can Ferrereta, housed in a 17th century mansion in the village of Santanyí, is a refined boutique hotel. Opened in spring 2022, in the lands of the south-east coast, it evokes a large Majorcan summer house and allows you to discover this little-known part of the island. Overlooking the bay of Palma, Cap Rocat, property of Antonio Obrador, who is also its architect, is a place of unique beauty. Situated in the middle of a fortified citadel, completely renovated, it invites you on a journey back in time.

Cap Rocat

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