Cesar Manrique February 2011

In December my father and I visited Lanzarote, the easternmost of the Canary Islands.   Every day we visited one or another of the works of Cesar Manrique. The island has been very strongly influenced by the painter, sculptor, architect, landscape designer, and town planner.  Born in 1919 he studied in Madrid and New York before returning to his native island in 1968.  In his work he tries to achieve a harmony between Art and Nature, Nature and Art. His artwork is ‘modern’ – geometrical and brightly coloured – and the nature of Lanzarote is black, raw, volcanic. His paintings but more especially his sculpture and architectural works express a beautiful dynamic harmony and generate a feeling of bright spaciousness rooted in raw nature. At the Jameos del Agua he has built a restaurant, a nightclub, a swimming pool and a concert hall in a massive larva tube.

Throughout the island he built several restaurants and sculptures, a Cactus Garden – built in a massive collapsed lava bubble – and the brilliantly designed drive through the stark black Fire Mountains.  In fact one gets the impression that the whole island is a work of art, because, well as his contributions, he ensured that no building on the island was more than two stories high and that they were all painted the traditional white.  In Landscaped gardens one enters into the world of the artist, and in Lanzarote one enters the world of Cesar Manrique.  It is a bright, refined, world with roots in the raw magma beneath our feet.