Art is linked to the history of humanity. So is barbarism. They are the two faces of human nature. Through the marks left by the different civilizations that have inhabited the Pityuses you can tell the story of some of the most important moments in the history of art and creation. Megalithic monuments in Formentera and surveillance and defensive systems on the coast – the stone witnesses to centuries of attacks and survival – walls that since ancient times have protected the activity of the port and the life of the main population; peasant houses integrated into the landscape and made of lime and stone that grew only when family needs increased and tell of lives linked to the land and the resources it provided if it was treated well; white churches that also served as lookouts watching the horizon; domestic pottery that speaks of simplicity; and funerary offerings that reveal how our ancestors viewed death…
If we know how to look and listen to it, art can tell us about the concerns, relationships and beliefs of the first settlers of these lands and all those who came after them. Each historical stage and settlement has left its mark on the territory and its inhabitants. Through the vestiges that remain we can learn about their rituals and the trade relations they had with other peoples and cultures, but also follow the trail of local creation that reached other lands, some neighbouring, others far away.
Ibiza and Formentera have shown that art doesn’t need magnificence but is, above all, harmony. The historical complex of Dalt Vila, surrounded by walls that have been preserved intact and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, is exceptional because it has blended different historical periods and artistic styles without stridence.
IBIZA AND THE PAINTERS
The beauty of the landscape and the harmony of the rural constructions captivated the painters and creators who began to visit and settle on the islands in the 19th century.
SANTIAGO RUSIÑOL (1861-1931) AND THE WHITE ISLAND
The Catalan writer, journalist and painter is one example of an artist who, after travelling the world, was captivated by this corner of the Mediterranean. Rusiñol created the description that has best defined Ibiza for centuries: “the white island”. To him we owe a name that speaks not only of Ibiza’s exceptional landscape but also of man’s measured hand upon it.
Rusiñol was a great friend of Ibizan artist Josep Costa Ferrer Picarol (1876-1971). Both were “interested in archaeology”, and did not hesitate to plunder sites on the island that were not yet protected, highlighting the importance of legal measures to ensure the preservation of natural and cultural heritage.
Rusiñol immortalized his stay on the island – it has now been 110 years since his first visit – in his literary and pictorial work. In May 1912 his play La buena gente (The Good People) premiered at the Pereira Theater in Ibiza Town. In August, the local newspaper El resumen published a short story he had written. At the beginning of September the painter finally arrived on the island as the Diario de Ibiza published another piece, titled “Ibiça. Impressió”.
“Talking about the impression a place makes when it is full of beauty […] One who speaks of Ibiza will be like one who picks a flower, smells the scent and has to leave it. The first impression that this island makes is dazzling. One comes from a blue, from a blue so intense […] and suddenly it is as if they threw a ray of light in your line of sight, placing before you a smattering of houses of such clear whiteness that it seems that they are opening your eyes to an unknown light. This whiteness of this Ibiza does not resemble any you have seen elsewhere…”
A few years later another great artist would visit the island, whose works can be found in the world’s most important museums: Valencian Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923). The painter of the Mediterranean light was also captivated by the shades of the Ibizan landscape. But that will have to be another story.