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Weekly Edition 067: Saturday 8th June 2002

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Artists on Ibiza
by José P Ribas

Andrés Monreal

On the road again. Gary and I went to visit our artist for this week, Andrés Monreal, born in Santiago de Chile in 1937.

Andrés Monreal is one of the most (probably the most at present) cosmopolitan artists of our plentiful, extraordinary and creative crowd of local and resident artists on Eivissa-Formentera.

His paintings are known and recognised as exceptional art pieces in many countries in all the Continents, forming part of public Pinacotheks in Museums and private collections of Art lovers.

He has gained a well-deserved reputation within the Art-dimension as a solid and real artist. Not just for the exquisite quality of his paintings, but also for the amount of challenge, courage and sincerity that he had to put into it, to make of his own destiny what he always wanted most for his life: to paint, to be a painter.

This strong determination, since he was very young, has allowed him to make his own destiny come true and has rewarded him with a very uncommon and intense life.  He has formed his own character as a complete person while the man-artist was forming, living comfortably and free with his talented work.     

Monreal spends most of his time (when he is not away from the Island on one of his frequent trips) living and working as he likes best, almost in complete loneliness in his own house-studio camouflaged in between the forest in the hills near by Sant Mateu.

If a house can be a reflection of its owner, this particular one can tell us a lot about him.

To start with, it is not easy to reach. You have to be invited and guided to it, or else you probably wouldn’t find it.

From the outside, the house, an old and small Ibicenco finca in its origins, is not pretentious at all. It is neat and cute, rather small and simple, enlarged by new rooms and the studio, without a defined style but with a satisfactory final result.

The house has what is needed, without concessions to second opinions. Inside it changes. It seems much bigger and higher, with plenty of light that comes into the studio through two sky-lights.

The walls without windows are covered with paintings and photographs and there are a few pieces of restored old furniture of different styles and it is also full of art pieces from all over the world, memories of his very cosmopolitan life and plenty of books - mostly about art - all over the place. The feeling is intimate, colourful and warm.         

“I swapped this house for some of my paintings that I had in the bar “Can Costa”, in Santa Gertrudis. I like these kinds of deals when money doesn’t need to show,” Andrés confessed to his friend and journalist Jorge Montojo in an interview in the newspaper “El Mundo” 14th April 2002, in which he also says: “I arrived in Eivissa in 1957 for the first time.

“By then I was studying in the Sorbonne, in Paris. I had a girlfriend that wanted to know Spain and so we both went hitchhiking to Barcelona. There we met a pleasant person who was living in Eivissa and offered us to visit him at his house in Sant Antoni”.

“It was a different Eivissa then. I remember that it took hours with the bus to drive to Sant Antoni; it was stopping all along the road to let the local peasants, some carrying chickens and even goats, on or off from it”.

A few years later, Monreal came back to Eivissa to produce a film, in which he worked as an actor. (Andrés has been in several films, especially in Madrid, where he was one of the few actors who could speak good English).

Then he decided to live in Formentera for a time. “It was a splendid and wild Island. I remember that to be able to paint, I had to go regularly to Eivissa to buy my canvas in “Casa Verdera”.

“There was good money working as an actor, I worked a lot in Madrid and I also went to Hollywood, where I worked in films with Anthony Quinn and Robert Mitchum among others. I could have stayed there, but it became tedious to do always the same role and what I really wanted was to paint. So, as soon as I had enough money, I left everything and I went back to Paris to concentrate all my energy in painting.

“I was living in Saint Germain, feeling myself up with a revolutionary cultural movement that was changing everything. I was living day by day, astonished by the fast changes. That was good for the creativity.

“I can’t think of my life without painting. Sometimes I refuse to travel because it is keeping me away from painting”

“When I paint, I try not to think of anything, so the art flows free. I let the brushes cover the canvas with colours to express ideas and feelings from the subconscious, like if they were dreams”.

Some art-critics have qualified Monreal’s paintings as “Magic Realism”, but Andrés, as a real artist, is free and not to be qualified.

“My inspiration comes from many directions, from the literature that fascinates me, from other painters, from the music, from experiences and life itself. But in the end, it’s always myself; it is other people that always have to classify everything, like if they fear that something runs out of control because it’s free”.

Sitting inside his house, admiring some of his painting and listening to this super-interesting man, with a glass of beer that Andrés has kindly offered us, meanwhile Gary doesn’t stop shooting his camera, in perfect harmony. I make my favourite big question: Andrés, why Eivissa? Why have you decided to live here and make it your home? 

He takes his time and looks at me with this special way that artists look, that it seems to involve and freeze everything around them.

I could swear that his pupils enlarge and shrink as the objectives of a camera do while his iris changes colour slightly. I have the feeling that he looks far beyond my shape and skin. I feel really trapped by this look and I get lost in its depth. Then, I remember reading that Andrés was also in the Himalayas, where he met the Dalai Lama in person.  

He uses the words as he uses his colours and brushes; only what needs to be used. There are not wasted words in his fluid conversation. “I don’t think that man decides anything, I believe in destiny, I didn’t decide to live here, and I learn to love it with time, like one learns to love a woman. All I know is that when I’m away, I want to come back, like you want to be close to the things you love”.  

Principal personal exhibitions

1958 Wittenbon Gallery, New York, USA
1959 Galería Beaux-Arts, Santiago, Chile
1961 Galería Beaux-Arts, Santiago, Chile
1962 British Institute, Santiago, Chile
1965 Koltnow Gallery, New York, USA
Circulo Dos, Madrid, Spain
1968 La Buharda, Madrid, Spain
1970 Galerie Sen, Paris, France
1975 Le Vieux Marché Gallery, Ottawa, Canada
1976 Le Doigt dans l’Oeil, Bordeaux, France
Galería Fred Lanzeberg, Eivissa
1980 Galerie Vendome, Paris, France
1981 Galería Es Molí, Eivissa, Spain
1982 Art Pool, Hamburg, Germany
1984 Il Cenacolo, Piacenza, Italy
1985 Galería Es Molí, Eivissa
The Lessing Gallery, New York, USA
1987 Le Troisieme Oeil, Bordeaux, France
Galerie Du Bellay, Paris, France
1990 Galería Praxis, Santiago.
Galerie MAG, Paris, France
1991 Galería J.M., Eivissa
1992 Barhard-Biderman, New York, USA
Galerie MAG, Paris, France
1993 Barhard-Binderman, New York, USA
Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, France
1994 Barhard-Binderman, New York, USA
1995 Jean-Maris Felli, Paris, France
Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, France
1996 Atelier du Midi, Arles
Galería Es Molí, Eivissa
1997 Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, France
2000 Galerie J. Bastien-Art, Bruxelles, Belgium

International Saloons and Museums

Modern-Art Museum, San Francisco, USA

Arte Fiera, Bologne, Italy

Royal Academy, London, England

The Male Nude, Home Work, London, England

Arco 82, Madrid, Spain

Figuration Critique, Palais du Luxembourg, Paris, France

Grands at Jeunes d’Aujourd’hui, Grand Palais, Paris, France

Triennal Figuratif, Sophia, Bulgaria

Art pour l’Afrique, UNESCO, Paris, France

Museo de Arte Moderna, Republica de San Marino.

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, France

Museo Ralli, Punta del Este, Uruguay

Dublin Writers Museum, Ireland

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Eivissa

Private Collections

United States, Japan, South America, France, Belgium, Australia & Africa.

Andrés Monreal, the flamboyant maestro at his work

My hair is turning green 92 x 73 cm 1991

Cartographie 100 x 81 cm 1997

La Samba 30 x16 cm 1997

Desnudo en la tapiz 100 x 80 cm 1998

Portrait of the artist as a young man
116 x 89 cm 1998

Figura arrodillada 100 x 81 cm 1998

El Toro Escondido 40 x 30 cm 1998

Impromptu 92 x 87,3 cm 1999

Etrange interlude 38 x 46 cm 1999

Gran bodegon 154 x 154 cm 2000

Danson 180 x 230 cm 2001

Cabeza en forma de lero 37 x 25 cm 2002

Bodegon del gato 35 x 26 cm 2002

Bodegon de la mujer 27 x 38 cm 2002

Apunte sobre Shakespeare 35 x 27 cm 2002

Infanta 35 x 27 cm 2002

Bodegon del caballo 36 x 28 cm 2002

All Pictures Courtesy of Andrés Monreal

Details: if you should require any further information about Andrèa Monreal and his work then please don’t hesitate to contact this office at your own convenience.

Andrés Monreal next exhibition is in the Sala Ebusos, Paseo Vara de Rey, Eivissa and the inauguration begins in the evening at 8 o’clock, Friday 25th July 2002.

José P Ribas

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