Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Fundacion Cesar Manrique, Top of the 1001 Ways to use a Volcano

Anyone reading any of my previous blogs will know about Cesar Manrique by now, even if you hadn't heard of him before.  I must admit that I hadn't, until visiting Lanzarote.  Artist, architect, sculptor and environmentalist Manrique was born in Arrecife in 1919, and was to have a profound influence on the shape, spirit and direction of modern Lanzarote.  After graduating from San Fernando Fine Arts Acadamy in Madrid, he travelled the world, before living and exhibiting in New York.  He returned to Lanzarote for good in 1966.  It is as a result of his influence that there are no very high buildings in Lanzarote.  There are many examples of his work everywhere on the island.  His public art is unmissable - giganitic mobiles on roundabouts, huge sculptures of wood, metal and concrete on sea fronts and imposing sentinels at harbour mouths. The interesting Castillo de San Jose, on the outskirts of Arrecife was thoughtfully restored by Manrique.  You can see his signature style in the spacious restaurant (and loos!).  We had coffee. The menu looked good and not too pricey.  We plan to enjoy a meal there at a future visit.  The Castillo houses a modern art collection which looks well displayed on the ancient stone walls.

For me the best of Cesar Manrique is encapsulated in his home in Tahiche  A house that uses the lava bubbles to create unique rooms to fit your mood and the time of day, as well as a delightful swimming pool and barbeque area has to come top of the list of imaginative uses for lava rock.

The gardens are a delight, as expected - a blending of nature and art.  I came back armed with photos and ideas of creating a more modest sized version of the colourful mosaic in our garden. 

There are plenty of places to sit amongst the flowers, or in the shade and enjoy a sandwich and a drink bought from the kiosk. The small shop sells reasonably priced jewellery and gifts  some made by local artisans.  The ground floor of the house is modern with displays of Manrique's work.  His paintings, drawings, designs for buildings are exhibited.  There are also many paintings by other notable artists. 

Descend the stairs into the best cave dwelling you are ever likely to see.  Troglodytes never had it this good.  Each 'bubble' is strikingly furnished, lit from the open sky or by subdued electric lighting.  You move through tunnels cut in the rock to the next bubble and the next mood.  Did he use one breakfast, have lunch in another, chat over after dinner drinks in another... etc etc?

The swimming pool is a miniature version of the blue lagoon at Jameous del Agua.  What parties he must have had.  I wanted to move in immediately.

Dive In.
A big screen in the gallery upstairs runs photographs of the artist throughout his life.  He died in 1992.  By that time he was living in Haria.  Because of the numbers of visitors to his house in Tahiche, it no longer felt like his own.

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