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THE ELECTRONIC LIVEIBIZA

Weekly Edition 037: Saturday 10th November 2001

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Artists on Ibiza
by José P Ribas

 
"Kennedy"
 

Bertumeu Mayáns Torres was born with "a taste of salt and the laughter of the seagulls", (as he himself loves to say) in the fishermen’s ward of "S'a Riba" in Ibiza Town's harbour in 1944.

He took his basic studies in the common school in Ibiza, but as it was difficult times he soon left the school at a very young age and started working as a barber’s apprentice.

Now he says he doesn't regret at all leaving school so early, so young. He is convinced that thirty years in any university would only have made him more ignorant. From his point of view, the best school of the lot - and the only one worthwhile learning from - is life itself. 

He soon gained the reputation of being a stylist hairdresser. It was the beginning of the Rock “n” Roll era and hair started to be important.

Here I must say that "Kennedy" was born a real artist, (even he still didn't know it then). He has a high artistic personality, he was an artist with the hair, but, being in the right place, he could have been a successful "pop" or flamenco singer, or a very good actor (he still is). Or a bullfighter, which would have been much easier, with far more chances of success then becoming a painter.

In the early 1960s, he moved down to work in a barber’s shop ("Can Mañanet") in Sant Antoni, that was already by then the centre of the Ibiza's tourist night life.

It was there he started to be called "Kennedy" by some of his customers, probably because of his similar young looks to the new president of the USA and also because those days, after work, he was out every night to the local Spanish guitar bars. He used to join the guitar players and sing along with them and they even wrote a song about him.

He had a lot of rhythm, a good voice and no inhibitions at all, which was an infallible way to pull the tourist girls. He was all over the place and became very popular and a little bit envied by some.

On Sant Antoni summer nights, people used to say of him that he was more famous than John F. Kennedy. Somehow he assimilated this name so well that when the American president was killed, a lot of people on the Island thought it was him and not the president who had been shot.

Then came the army. During his military service, here in Ibiza, he became the officers’ hairdresser. This got him out of trouble a few times over his bohemian nights until one day when his captain asked him on a Sunday morning when he was supposed to be off duty to cut his son's hair for a special occasion. "Kennedy" always has been a bit rebellious, but he did the job and then shaved the poor boy's hair right off. Of course he was arrested for doing this and his own hair was also completely shaved off, which was normal those days in the Spanish army for anyone who was arrested. But as his army days were almost over, he didn't seem to worry about it.

After the army he decided to go to England. It was the place that all the young look and fashion came from, in the days of the Beatles and Carnaby Street. London was the place for the talented and ambitious young ones to go, and he was there for a few years.

He was back in Ibiza in the middle 1970s with the reputation of having been the hair stylist of famous pop groups. Very soon one of his old friends opened up a new hairdresser’s business for him to run. Kennedy’s was in Sant Antoni's best area by the side of the Town Hall.

The business was a success and the shop was always full of customers. Everything seemed to be perfect for "Kennedy" to settle down, start earning good money and have an easygoing life.

But things didn't mean to be this way. Something was wrong. He wasn't happy. Something was missing.

It was his years of wine and roses, but soon, too soon, the roses became thorns and the wine turned into vinegar. His continued abuse of alcohol led his life into a real mess and he lost everything, almost his own life, or even worse, his mental health. "I know Hell, I have been in it," he says when he talks about those days. But from this chaotic self-destruction, the real artist was being born.  His art started to be released. "Kennedy" was so thin that inside his skin there was no room for both his shrinking bounds and his growing art.

Was this big amount of self-destruction necessary for the Art creation? It was a very hard shell to break for this bird to fly!

He ended up with no choice. It was painting, not just "only painting" but creating a bit of art every day from and with what you had got, day by day. It was carrying on painting, or else. Death was the best bet, probably, the only choice. 

He had nothing left but his (mostly unknown) art and his enormous will for surviving, surviving for his art.

"Paintings cure; my paintings cure.  They have saved my life, like a life jacket in a sea-wreck and they can help and cure other people. There is all my hope and faith in it," he says now. He was being very honest. Kennedy's artistic evolution is also pure therapy.

Obviously "Chumeu" Mayáns Torres "Kennedy" ("Fá lo que toca!" as he will say) did what should be done. ("Chumeo" is another Ibicenco word for Bertumeu; this is the name that he prefers to be called and known. Don't call me Clay, call me Ali). 

Art helped "Chumeu" from the very beginning, not only spiritually. He used to pay his restaurant bills with his first drawings and paintings, saying: "This wall is too empty; you need a couple of good paintings up there. I will not charge you anything for them. I’ll just come and watch them for a few days, while I'm eating." They all agreed and today they all feel proud of it.

His paintings decorated bars and restaurants all over the Island. Soon his work was spotted by people who follow and collect art and by the experts of the art galleries that opened up the doors for him, as soon as he had enough good work ready for it.

His artistic evolution was notorious and very personal. His techniques, first pencil and inks, soon "collage," oils, acrylics and mixed techniques, which sometimes show, like in dreams, a memory, a reflex of his favourite best artist, two of them his personal friends, Toni Ribas "Portmany" and Vicent Calbét, Tápies, Miquel Barceló.

But it was all self-taught and therefore his style is unique. ("I don't need to learn to paint, painting teaches me. I will learn to paint better when I learn to live"). 

His paintings, the colour and the feelings of his paintings, went from the dark nights, with the most sullen and gloomy feelings, through different transparencies and misty twilight, up to the brightest sunny day, leaving the spirit willing to fly. ("There is no more time for rancour; I have no capability for any kind of revenge. Painting speaks for me").  

The art experts say of his early exhibitions: "Kennedy's" paintings are like the cry of the silence. They are not ideas hanging on the wall; they are feelings, emotions. You can see passion, anger, affection, sadness and joy. Of his later ones, they just say he is always himself, his art is unique, very personal and genuine, but there is always something new in him. He goes another step ahead; he is just getting better all the time.    

Individual Exhibitions

1986

Sala de Cultura de "Sa Nostra", Eivissa (Ibiza)

1988

Hotel Hacienda, Sant Miquel  Eivissa.

Sala de Cultura de "Sa Nostra", Eivissa.

Galeria Skiros, Eivissa.

Pictograma, Castelló de la Plana.

Centre Cultural d'Aldaia, Valencia.

Centre Cultural de Torrent, Valencia.

Capellán Pallares, Sagunt, Valencia.

1989

Sant Agustí, Eivissa.

1992

Galeria El Coleccionista, Madrid

Galeria Es Llimoner, Sant Antoni, Eivissa.

1993

Galeria Es Llimoner, Sant Antoni, Eivissa.

Galeria Bella & Sioma Baram, Sant Francesc Xavier, Formentera.

1994

Galeria Es Llimoner, Sant Antoni, Eivissa.

Galeria Arteaga, Eivissa.

1995

Circulo de Bellas Artes, Palma de Mallorca.

1997

Sala de Cultura "Sa Nostra", Eivissa.

1998

Sala de Expossicions "La Caixa"

1999

Galeria Van der Voort, Eivissa..

2000

House Gallery, Eivissa.

2001

Sala de Expossicions "La Caixa", Formentera.

Sala de Expossicions, Galeria Casino "Ebusus" Eivissa.

Collective Exhibitions

1988

Galeria de los Artistas, Jesús, Eivissa.

1992

Galeria Es Llimoner, Sant Antoni, Eivissa.

1993

Supermercat del Art, Eivissa.

1994

Escola de Arts i Oficis, "Per la UNICEF". Eivissa.

Santa Agnés de Corona, Eivissa.

1995

Galeria Alhadros, Eivissa.

Galeria Marta Torres (2), Eivissa.  

Supermercat del Art, Eivissa.


Galeria Van der Voort 9th October 1998
 

Original de Kennedy
 

20 x 13,5 Tècnica mixta s/ paper 1997
 

24,5 x 18,5 Tècnica mixta s/ paper 1997
 

49 x 28 Tècnica mixta s/ paper 1997
 

23 x 17 Tècnica mixta s/ tela 1997
 

30 x 21 Tècnica mixta s/ tela 1997
 

55 x 43 Tècnica mixta s/ tela 1997
 
 
José P Ribas
josepribas@liveibiza.com
 

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