Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Tribute to Cesar Manrique, Lanzarote Artist

Lanzarote, Canary Islands---Imagine if Salvidor Dali would have been allowed to city plan and design the flow of St. Petersburg , Florida. Imagine if Picasso could have taken Barcelona in the early days and designed how the buildings and nature would be built and plan the flow between man and nature. Imagine if Daytona Beach, Florida (my home for 25 years) would have given the task to Miltos or Perigo (local extraordinary artists) of complete city planning and redevelopment with the goal to create art around nature, making the area the most unusual beach town on the east coast…

In Madrid, where he studied, in the 50's

 That’s what happened on this Canary Island of Lanzarote. Height limits, use of native rock, no billboards or advertisements along the roads (okay, my marketing friends are now screaming at me)…Buildings that flow into the landscape and villages that cleanly stand out painted pure white and accented only with doors and windows in Mediterranean Blue or pure Green.

A native Artist named Cesar Manrique was born on this Island. Went to Paris, New York, toured with his work and made an international name for himself, only to return to his roots: the island of Lanzarote.

Everywhere you look has his touch. It is quite obvious he was loved. Not one person I have talked to has complained about the restrictions on building codes or the artist’s designs. EVERYONE loved Manrique. Everyone has great pride regarding this island and the fact that it is special. Public Relations is taken care of by its own people and their pride for this island. The tourism department has a well defined product and no one is arguing.

Cesar Manrique was born in 1919 and died tragically in a car accident on this island, near his home, on one of those crazy round-about circles that have scared us many times by the crazy drivers racing through it with no regards to others. The women in the Manrique shop had tears in her eyes telling me about the accident, the shock that the island was in, the chain of international reactions, and the visitors from all over the world who came in for his memorial.

We visited his past home on our tour around the island a couple of days ago. I was very taken by his work.

To get a feel for the man, his work, his life, here are excerpts from the book “Cesar Manrique, in his own words” along with photos of the house he built on top of several Volcano bubbles which now serves has his foundation. Logos, and many buildings around the island are all guided or designed by him.

“At the very heart of things, all can be set in motion by great passion, great love and utter devotion”

'Mirador del Rio'' Lookout building on the side of a cliff
 “I want to sing a hymn to LIFE forever, realizing that I myself am a witness of the change with has brought me to life in order to wonder at the great, solemn spectable of such a marvelous energy which, just for one, fleeting moment, shall never be repeated again.”

His home: Taro de Tahiche, current Foundation headquarters

“Our life on this planet is so brief that every step we take must be a further contribution to the ideal space of Utopia. Let us build the space together: it is the only was to make it possible.”

Inside the Volcano bubble. His home.

“Curiosity has always determined my direction and enriched my soul, to acquire knowledge and penetrate every nook and cranny of the earth with an inquisitive gaze, with an analytical, ever-searching look at infinite forms, textures and colours in perennial revelation and, above all, filled with a wonder difficult to explain, understanding that, in the pleasure of observation, there dwelt in me a kind of integration and absolute knowing. Nature generously gave me what others could neither see nor under stand.”

Las Salinas Hotel, 1977/from book "In his own words"
 “I believe that we must promote quickly the characteristic differences of every place on the planet. Otherwise, in the near future, we will have a boring, standard culture, lacking in all creative imagination.”

A country’s biggest business is its education.”

At his home

“To create with absolute freedom, without fear and without formulas, comforts the soul and clears the way for rejoicing in existence.”

Jardin del Cactus, 1990/from his book "In his own words"
 “I have a binding sense of my art’s relationship with nature.”

In his home. Note the Volcano walls, painted white at the bottom.
 “I, as an artist, have the moral obligation to show great respect towards nature and to transmit this respect through the medium of my art to the spirit of all men.”

At his home

His home's backyard view!

At his home. Rooms connect from inside to out through Volcanic Rock walkways

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