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Artists of Ibiza

Artists on Ibiza


Toni Ribas Costa "Toniet"

by José P Ribas


Potters have been making beautiful things out of clay in Ibiza and Formentera for thousands of years.

The relationship between clay and creation has its origins in the beginning of time, as we can read in the Bible.

God used clay, as the most modest and the only material, to mould what's supposed to be his best creation, Man.

The difference is that he then breathed life into it, but the relationship between the clay, the religious art creation and the Pitiusas Islands also has its origins in the beginning of our historical times.

When the Phoenicians reached our Islands to found the city of "Ebusus" (Eivissa, 654 BC) they were very impressed by the fact that there were no dangerous or poisonous animals, such as snakes, scorpions, tarantulas or wild beasts, so abundant in their countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

They saw this, as a divine blessing for the place, especially for its soil and clay that wouldn't support evil creatures.

Images and medallions of their Gods, "Bes" and "Tanit" - as well as other little objects made of the local clay - used to be worn as an amulet to protect them against the evil and the poison of these creatures whenever they had to sail away from the island.

There are records of a very active industry in pottery and artistic ceramic production in the Islands from those days, basically "terracotta." We can still see a good collection of them in the "Punic" area of the Museum of Archaeology of Eivissa. The tradition still goes on.

This is what we were talking about when Gary Hardy and I had the pleasure to visit our artist for this week.

Toni Ribas Costa, "Toniet", was born in June 1955, in Sant Jordi, Eivissa. A real "product" of our land and culture, a solid and confirmed artist and even a better person, with a clear and bright look, full of harmony and serenity, like the sky and the sea of Formentera on a pleasant spring afternoon.

Toniet started studying painting and artistic ceramic academic ways when he was twelve, first with the professor and painter Toni Pomar in the local Art school (Escola d'Arts i Ofisis d'Eivissa), then in Sabadell (Barcelona) with the ceramist professor Isidre Creus.

Later, back in Eivissa, he also studied and worked by the side of the local pottery master, "Toni Daifa", at the time the best ceramist in the ancestral Mediterranean terracottas, especially in the Punic models and its techniques.

Toniet also spent six summers of his life living and working in Formentera (in the winter he was going back to Barcelona) by the side of another exceptional local artist "Gabrielet." Learning from him, he increased his own creativity and enlarged a more philosophical point of view about Art and life in general.

At the age of twenty six, Toniet left his academic studies and started working and experimenting in his own workshop, cultivating and developing his own very personal style.

It is a mixture of the classic Mediterranean terracotta and the modern ceramic, done with natural materials, colours and enamels that he prepares and mixes himself to be fired in his own oven.

"I'm interested in all materials, especially the ones that I can prepare myself from the original, natural matter, because they adapt better to my artistic expression. Not so much for the artificial materials - I'm against chemical abuse in the ceramic. Sometimes there is a chemical abuse in it, though what really counts is the final result. Ceramics should never be a laboratory, but a creative and free technique."

About his preferences as far as the style of his art pieces, he says: "Everything can have an influence to a creator. Life by itself, everything around, can be a motive for the artist to be translated into an art piece, though, in practical terms, most probably I'm influenced by the traditional Eivissa ceramics, the actual modern style and the ancestral, archaeological, Phoenician and Punic, beautiful terracotta art pieces".

Coming from such a rich and extraordinary background, with such exceptional teachers, plus his own methodical discipline in his creative work, it is understandable that there is a big variety, though also very personal, in all his artistic creations.

There are painted tiles that form polychromatic murals, jars that could be abstract sculptures, single painted tiles or plates with exquisite drawings, sculptures and figures based on the Punic terracotta. And a large list of other works, most done with home-made natural colours, mainly ochre, yellows, blues and reds.

"In my art work, I look to create beauty, to identify myself with my own aesthetic. My art pieces are meant to be somewhere in between the painting and the sculpture. But, I also think that the artist can't keep steel, one can't stop investigating, experimenting with new techniques and materials, always a step ahead. If you don't do so, there is nothing new for the artist to say, nothing new to create".

At present Toniet continues working methodically, with discipline, basically in commissioned art pieces, not so much producing to exhibit, sharing his time working as an art professor, teaching the age-old secrets of ceramics and working techniques.

Individual Exhibitions

1978 Galería Roc Ginard, Barcelona
1980 Galería "Tot Art", Eivissa
1981 Sala de Cultura "Sa Nostra", Eivissa
1983 Sala de Cultura "Sa Nostra", Eivissa
1985 Sala de Cultura "Sa Nostra", Eivissa
1987 Sala de Cultura "Sa Nostra", Eivissa
1989 Sala de Cultura "Sa Nostra", Eivissa
1990 Galería Bearn, Palma de Mallorca
Galería Berri, Sant Agustí, Eivissa
Sala de Cultura "Sa Nostra", Ciutadella, Menorca
1991 Galería Bella, Sioma & Baram, Sant Francesc, Formentera.
Sala de Cultura "Sa Nostra", Eivissa.
1992 Galería Berri, Sant Agustí, Eivissa.
1993 Sala Almirall, Barcelona.
1994 Sala Almirall, Barcelona.
1996 Sala de Exposiciones "Ayuntamiento de Sant Josép" Eivissa.

Collective Exhibitions

1991 Galería Azara, Eivissa.
Galería Bella, Sioma & Baram, La Savina, Formentera.
Sala de Cultura "Sa Nostra" Eivissa. Artistas amb el poble Saharià.
1992 Galería Bella, Sioma & Baram, Sant Francesc, Formentera.
1993 Galería Art-Bar, Sant Josép, Eivissa.
Galería d'Art "Es Llimoner", Sant Antoni, Eivissa.

Special Public Art-works

1989 Diosa Tanit para la "I Semana Internacional del Film de Eivissa"
(Special Ceramic of the Punic Goddess "Tanit" for the "First International week of the Film of Eivissa")
1990 Diosa Tanit para la "II Semana Internacional del Film de Eivissa".
1991 Murales para embellecer las fachadas de las estaciones marítimas de Eivissa y Formentera.
(Murals for the Maritim Stations in Eivissa and Formentera).
1992 "Torre de los Vientos, con Reloj de Sol" en el Puerto de la Savina, Formentera.
("Tower of the Winds" with a Sun-Dial in Formentera's harbour, "La Savina").
1994 Mural para la fachada de "Sa Nostra", Eivissa.
(Mural for the saving-bank "Sa Nostra" in Eivissa.)

Other Art-works Done In Collaboration With Other Artists

1973-1974 Trabajos sobre terracota tradicional con Joan Daifa. Taller estudio "Can Espanyol", Eivissa.
(Traditional terracotta-art-works, together with Joan Daifa, in the work-shop "Can Espanyol", Eivissa)
1975-1976 Trabajos escultoricos y en bajo relieve con Antonio "Gabrielet". Taller estudio "Es Torrent Fondo", La Mola, Formentera.
(Sculpture artwork, together with Antonio "Gabrielet" in the workshop "Es Torrent Fondo" in La Mola, Formentera.)
1978-1981 Trabajos sobre cerámica policromada con Antonio "Gabrielet". Taller de cerámica "La Mola", Formentera.
(Polychromatic ceramic-art-works, together with Antonio "Gabrielet", in the work-shop of "La Mola ", Formentera.)


All Pictures Courtesy of Toniet

José P Ribas