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Artists of Ibiza

Artists on Ibiza

 

Edith Sommer

By Louise Wright



 
Artists


In our research for our series "Artists on Ibiza", I have become aware of the large number of artists from around the world living and working on the island and I have to ask if Ibiza is a cultural Utopia. Who better to answer this question than Edith Sommer, a German born artist who has lived and worked on the island for the past forty years.

"I once told a Barcelona artist to leave Ibiza and go back to mainland Spain because he had no future here. Now I believe he is doing very well for himself in Spain.

If you want to be famous you have to live in a city where art happens. New York, London, Paris, Berlin, etc.; anywhere but not in Ibiza or in a small village.

If you want to become a famous artist you have to be living and exhibiting your art in the right place.

Even putting your art on the Internet won't bring you fame. You have to go to the city and meet the art critics and the press, as well as holding exhibitions in well-known galleries.

I would say that any new artist in Ibiza needs a second job because he/she won't be able to survive on art alone.

You can only survive on art when your paintings are selling for 50,000 to 60,000 dollars and people are coming running after you to see your latest work. But otherwise you have to do something else to make a living.

I suppose unconsciously everyone would like to see their paintings in a big gallery but this is only a fairytale for the minority. The difference is that most artists don't need to become famous; it would be nice, of course, but all they really want to do is to make enough money to paint and do what comes naturally.

I wouldn't mind if it had happened to me, but I would never live in a big city so I considered it impossible.

Once I was offered a contract with a famous gallery in New York, but I decided not to accept because it would have meant that I would have to live in New York for three to five years.

It would have gone against my beliefs as a human being but perhaps everything would be different now if I had gone.

If I had been in New York I would have had to be available three times a week to go to the shows ‘they' tell you to and meet with the critics.

The other problem was that if I didn't become famous during five years I would have to stay for another five years or as long as necessary.

I considered that there were too many compromises to be made and also, I didn't want to live in the city. I was living here in Ibiza and fortunately or unfortunately I had enough money to live my life carefully.

Naturally if I hadn't had money I would have had no other choice but to go.

But as I had the choice I decided not to go and I was so happy living here in the sun, under the trees and free from noise, and I didn't think much about the future. At the time I was only interested in what I wanted, without thinking about what was best.

I have to say that I don't regret my decision.

For me there are two kinds of success: you can be successful because you are famous or because you are content with yourself and your way of life.

Even though you might not be successful in the eyes of others, to yourself you are a success.

Every life has two sides but to me it is more important that I'm content with myself.

In Ibiza there are lots of internationally known artists, but most of them come here to relax or to retire, without even trying to sell their artwork.

There is another group of artists that doesn't even bother to have exhibitions on the island because they have a large group of friends who buy their paintings.

Personally I've had lots of exhibitions all over the world. I don't think I could live off my art but it has been a good help.

The last exhibition I had in Germany was really tiring. I had to put all my paintings in the car, drive to Germany and stay in a hotel. Then I had to get a flight back to Ibiza and also have a second car here to get around. Three weeks later I flew back to Germany for the presentation of the exhibition and to meet the critics.

Economically it wasn't that beneficial so I stopped holding international exhibitions because it was senseless.

I had an exhibition in Ibiza three years ago, but the problem is that - although it's beautiful to see your work in a gallery - only my friends buy my paintings and they would have bought them anyway.

I find that most people that buy art are friends of the artist. For instance, if an artist from Mallorca were to hold an exhibition here in Ibiza, he would have little chance of selling because he hasn't got any friends here.

Another thing that I have discovered over the years is that the art galleries haven't got a great interest in exhibiting your paintings if they are only selling for 1,000 dollars instead of 20,000 dollars, as they don't make much profit.

Although I used to be very ambitious I find that it's all gone now.

There is one thing I know for sure about my life as an artist, I have always done what I wanted to do, in my art but also in my life.

I suppose some people would say that if I hadn't been able to do what I wanted, today I might have been a famous artist.

But I know that I couldn't be more content with my life than I am now. Probably if I had been a famous artist my personal life would have been a failure. You can never know what might have happened so there is no point in having regrets, that is my philosophy.

I change a lot and this is one of my main problems. When I exhibited at a German gallery at first all my paintings were very 'quiet', mostly pale green. I did two shows in the gallery and then for the next show I arrived with a series of 'action' paintings and the owner basically threw me out.

I was told that I couldn't change my style like that because I had just started to build up an image of doing quiet paintings and the change of style would mean I would have to start again. And I knew that if I built up an image of action paintings, sometime I would change my style and do something completely different.

Most artists will stick to the style that makes the most money but I have never been able to do this.

Art is different. When you paint a picture and then you look at it in the future and regret not doing it differently, you can just paint another one.

Very often I will do two paintings that are very similar but they will never be the same because I hate repeating myself. People who know my paintings understand my different changes in style and, although a series of my paintings look drastically different they nearly always share the same colours or if not, the same elements.

When I finish a series I don't usually go back to that style, instead I try to do something completely different in my next series.

I nearly always use very vivid colours because they match my way of thinking.

I never paint landscapes because it doesn't interest me. I paint impressions of landscapes or only the part that inspires me.

Sometimes I will do a series of fairytale paintings but most of my art is abstract.

I can't put a label on my art because I think that each of my paintings would have a different label.

If I label my artwork today, tomorrow it won't be true anymore.

Most artists don't have the same approach to life than other people. While most people are interested in having a big house and a nice car, artists prefer a simpler way of life. But this depends on each person.

Perhaps in Spain, in some places, you can still survive with 200 dollars a month but no one wants to live there because you can become very lonesome and for a lot of artists it's an excuse to do nothing.

Here in Ibiza everyone knows each other, the climate is wonderful and the island attracts an international group of people because of being so small.

In this group the artists all like to stick together from San Antonio to San Carlos and therefore you are not isolated.

If a new artist arrives on the island he/she is welcomed to the group.

I think this is one of the biggest attractions of the island; familiarity, interesting people from around the world and the fact that nearly all of us can speak English means that communication is no problem.

But Ibiza is too small, it will always stay a little bit buried from the rest of the world but I think that is what makes it so special".

"Landscapes are for Edith Sommer spatial stage sets for strange visions. Lonely and exotic, her paintings give an effect of strong, clear, contrasting colours which simultaneously calm and stimulate the viewer. The tension in her paintings does not arise accidentally, but through the opposition of being and appearance, actuality and imagination. Reality is fantastically transformed". Dr. Eike Pies

Individual Exhibitions


1960

Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal (Germany)

1962

Galeria Vedrà, Ibiza

1963

Galeria Grife-Escoda, Barcelona

Galerie im Weissen Haus, Winterthur (Switzerland)

1966

Galeria Ivan Spence, Ibiza

1967

Galerie Becher, Wuppertal (Germany)

1969

Galeria Ivan Spence, Ibiza

Selected Artists, New York (USA)

1972

Galeria da Barra, Barcelona

1973

Bryant Gallery, New Orleans (USA)

Bryant Gallery, Houston (USA)

1974

Galerie Kona, Zürich (Switzerland)

1975

Tower Gallery, Southampton (USA)

1976

Studio Wein, Stuttgart (Germany)

Kleine Galerie, Köln (Germany)

Galerie Latina, Hamburg (Germany)

Röderhaus, Wuppertal (Germany)

1979

Galeria Maloney, Ibiza

1980

Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, Munich (Germany)

1981

Galerie Arpi, Paris (France)

Galeria Maloney, Ibiza

1982

Studio Wein, Stuttgart (Germany)

1984

Galeria Maloney, Ibiza

1985

Van Remmen, Solingen (Germany)

1987

Röderhaus, Wuppertal (Germany)

1988

Galeria Maloney, Ibiza

1990

Galeria Becher, Wuppertal (Germany)

1997

Galeria Alhadros, Ibiza

Since 1997 to present

Galeria Nomad, carretera San José km. 1,5 Ibiza

Shall We?
Unterbrochen
Fairy Tree Eruption 60" x 44"Blank
High Tide In My Flower 39" x 32"
Ibiza Beach 34" x 43"
Monument For An Unknown Divorce
Petrified On A Beach
Pink Brick Road
UFO Over My World
Windows To Morocco 43" x 60"
Auch im Dschungel
Memory Sea

All Pictures Courtesy of Edith Sommer

Louise Wright

louisewright@liveibiza.com