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.
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.
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.
want to become a famous artist you have to be living and exhibiting your art
in the right place.
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
say that any new artist in Ibiza needs a second job because he/she won't be
able to survive on art alone.
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.
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.
mind if it had happened to me, but I would never live in a big city so I considered
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.
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.
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.
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.
if I hadn't had money I would have had no other choice but to go.
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
to say that I don't regret my decision.
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.
you might not be successful in the eyes of others, to yourself you are a success.
has two sides but to me it is more important that I'm content with myself.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
I used to be very ambitious I find that it’s all gone now.
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.
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
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.
will stick to the style that makes the most money but I have never been able
to do this.
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.
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.
finish a series I don't usually go back to that style, instead I try to do something
completely different in my next series.
always use very vivid colours because they match my way of thinking.
paint landscapes because it doesn't interest me. I paint impressions of landscapes
or only the part that inspires me.
I will do a series of fairytale paintings but most of my art is abstract.
put a label on my art because I think that each of my paintings would have a
If I label
my artwork today, tomorrow it won't be true anymore.
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.
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.
Ibiza everyone knows each other, the climate is wonderful and the island attracts
an international group of people because of being so small.
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.
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.
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".
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
Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal (Germany)
im Weissen Haus, Winterthur (Switzerland)
Ivan Spence, Ibiza
Becher, Wuppertal (Germany)
Ivan Spence, Ibiza
Artists, New York (USA)
da Barra, Barcelona
Gallery, New Orleans (USA)
Gallery, Houston (USA)
Kona, Zürich (Switzerland)
Gallery, Southampton (USA)
Wein, Stuttgart (Germany)
Galerie, Köln (Germany)
Latina, Hamburg (Germany)
Vier Jahreszeiten, Munich (Germany)
Arpi, Paris (France)
Wein, Stuttgart (Germany)
Becher, Wuppertal (Germany)
1997 to present
Nomad, carretera San José km. 1,5 Ibiza
Fairy Tree Eruption 60" x 44"
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
|All Pictures Courtesy of Edith Sommer