Nit de L'Art: Mallorca's Contemporary Art Extravaganza

Palma de Mallorca's Cathedral | © dicau58/Flickr
Palma de Mallorca's Cathedral | © dicau58/Flickr
Photo of Bethan Morgan
27 January 2016

Once a year the Balearic island of Mallorca celebrates Nit de L’Art, a nocturnal festival dedicated to the island’s contemporary art scene. Held annually on the third Thursday of September, the network of galleries in Palma open until the early hours of Friday morning to welcome in locals, visitors, art collectors, curators and creatives.

A View of Palma | © Bethan Morgan

The event signals the beginning of the art season as galleries exhibit their most relevant and current artists who engage with performance, painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, and more. Nit de L’Art is revered for being a reflection of the island’s dynamic contemporary arts scene in both local and global contexts.

Nit de L’Art 2013 did not disappoint. With a variety of exhibits to reflect Mallorca’s international presence, this year saw an emphasis on its strong links with Asian artists, namely those with a physical or conceptual link to the island. With conversation flowing as easily as the drinks, Nit de L’Art 2013 had people enjoying the sociable atmosphere and creative buzz whilst meandering through the labyrinthine streets of Palma’s historic quarter.

Streets happenings at Nit de L’Art 2013 | © Bethan Morgan

First held in 1997, Nit de L’Art grew from concept to reality in just three weeks. The event stemmed from a desire to correct an imbalance in the arts market which, at the time, was thought to spawn elitism and exclusivity. Determined to subvert these perceptions, the founders Xavier Fiol and Pepe Llabres put together the event as a device to make art more accessible within Mallorca.

Having emerged from this grassroots position, Nit de L’Art continues to prioritize creativity at a local level and encourages non-profit collaborations. In addition to the official program of Nit de L’Art galleries, an alternative route runs throughout the city and transforms the streets into a stage for art performances and spontaneous happenings. Fiol and Llabres annually adapt the festival to consolidate, absorb and challenge contemporary themes, and thus intend to increase the presence of new media art in upcoming years.

Xavier Fiol describes the event as a tool to ‘generate interest among the young…the future art collectors’. Through this it broadens the island’s creative identity and celebrates local talent. Nit de L’Art is not only a warm welcome for strangers to the island, but an immersive and exciting event, one that comes highly recommended for art experts, novices, or simply those who desire a unique evening out.

The Best Galleries of La Nit De L’Art:

Galeria Horrach Moya

Joana Vasconcelos | 29 June – 29 November 2013

Galería Horrach Moya occupies a renovated XIX manor house right in the heart of Palma’s historic quarter. There is a gentle reminder of its history with traditional Spanish tiles throughout the gallery spaces and lofty windows opening onto the square. This commercial gallery is affiliated with the Galería Horrach Moya Workshop: a former factory turned creative playground in which contemporary artists can produce large scale works.

Playing with everyday realities, Vasconcelos transforms familiar objects such as a wash basin, shower and chandelier into unique sculptures. A sense of craftsmanship is apparent as she weaves, wraps and envelopes fabric and wool around the objects. As these re-appropriations become a carefully sculpted mass of playful colors and textures, they dictate the relationship between audience and artwork; as one leans forward in an attempt to understand the intricacies of the piece, one must then step back to understand the completed form. The aesthetics, reminiscent of Pop Art ideologies with undertones of Art Nouveau, command the space and work especially well with the architectural heritage of Galería Horrach Moya.

Xim Izquierdo (L), Model in Izquierdo’s Photographs (R), Ses Voltes | © Bethan Morgan

Ses Voltes

By offering courses, workshops and an artist residency program, Ses Voltes is deeply involved in the growth of artistic practice within Palma. Considered a meeting point within the artistic community, the center presents opportunities locally and internationally, and its continued vision strives towards showcasing the accessible nature of contemporary art and carving out Mallorca’s creative identity.

At 2013’s Nit de L’Art, Ses Voltes celebrated their resident artists Miguel Adrover, Adriana Cerecero and Xim Izquierdo with an open studio. The Mallorcan artist Xim Izquierdo exhibited a crucifix-like sculpture alongside a series of underwater photographs that capture a submerged protagonist as she hangs in the refractions and patterns of the underwater light. Possessing an ethereal quality, the spirituality of his work is highlighted by the surreality of the crucifix as it stands firmly on the ocean bed.

Galeria Maior Palma

Memories Imagined, Mitsuo Miura

Nit de L’Art saw this small contemporary gallery overflowing with people who came to admire the brightly colored sculptures created by Japanese artist Mitsuo Miura. Each sculpture is a collection of colored ribbons strung from floor to ceiling to form columns throughout the gallery. Miura’s colourful artworks are delicate illusions; as one moves around them it becomes apparent how the ribbons never meet to form a solid block of color. Equally, Miura’s pieces are just as memorable for their simplified beauty and mesmerizing effect.

Malene Birger, ‘My Garden’, ABA Art Contemporani | © Bethan Morgan

ABA Art Contemporani

My Garden, Malene Birger

Palma is home to two sister spaces: ABA Art Contemporani Convent de la Missió and ABA Art Contemporani. These spaces combined provide a platform for creatives just beginning their artistic journey as well as artists who enjoy a more established position. The first gallery opened in 1997 and has since evolved into one of the most influential contemporary spaces in Palma.

Nit de L’Art at ABA Art Contemporani saw another side to the renowned Danish fashion designer Malene Birger. Through her artistic skill Birger has made a confident transition from fashion to painting, and by concentrating on natural and organic forms her paintings proved captivating within the gallery space. With a studio in Mallorca, the attached garden is Birger’s source of inspiration and a pocket of calm where she collects her thoughts and shapes ideas.

Interior view ‘Reproductibilitat 1.0’, Es Baluard | © Bethan Morgan

Es Baluard

Reproductibilitat 1.0 | 14 September 2013 – 16 March 2014

A larger and more established gallery, Es Baluard is a recognized institute thanks to its diverse collections of modern and contemporary art. The gallery approaches experimental aspects of music, dance, theater, performance and poetry, situated within a segment of the Renaissance wall surrounding the city.

Es Baluard’s photography exhibition Reproductibilitat 1.0 generated momentum at Nit de L’Art largely due to its curation. The exhibition saw the discipline separated into five areas – protohistory, portrait photography, scanners, metalandscape and clonings – encouraging a dialogue that looks at the capabilities of photography. The curators emphasize chronological and thematic investigations into photography, instead of relying solely of its visual appeal. Including photographs by Marina Abramović, Robert Mapplethorpe and Roland Fischer, Reproductibilitat 1.0 is a well considered entry into the medium.

Robert Ferrer i Martorell (L) | © Bethan Morgan

Joan Oliver “Maneu” Galeria D’Art

Robert Ferrer i Martorell | 19 September – 31 October 2013

Robert Ferrer i Martorell’s work subtly plays with scale and materiality as he explores the physical capabilities of foam, card, paper, plastics and cloth. By actively bending, suspending and molding these materials his works reference undulating curves and staccato forms to present contemporary landscapes. Like a frozen explosion, the artist captures a moment as it hangs between movement and time. His most impressive piece at Joan Oliver “Maneu” Galeria D’Art is a site specific installation comprised of what appeared to be huge sheets of paper peeling off the wall surrounded by suspended card. Highlighting themes of scale and the unconscious, one must manoeuvre around the piece to experience it fully.

Leiko Ikemura ‘Los Espantos’, Galeria Kewenig | © Bethan Morgan

Galeria Kewenig

Los Espantos, Leiko Ikemura | 19 September – 23 November 2013

Ikemura grew up in Japan and migrated to Spain at the age of 21, where she currently lives and works. Throughout her career, Ikemura’s work has continuously referenced female identity and perceptions, and her exhibition at Galeria Kewenig titled Los Espantos (The Haunted) reinforces this with a strong link to the Spanish painter Francisco Goya. Her investigations into female representations and identity through Goya’s work are manifested as sculptures, paintings and photographs.

Julia Geiser, ‘Damm Brunch’, 2013 (L), Julia Geiser, ‘Louise Broke’, 2013 (R) | © Bethan Morgan

La Caja Blanca

La Caja Blanca is an experimental contemporary art gallery that accommodates a range of media such as site specific pieces, photographs and paintings. The gallery has an important presence within Palma due to its active role in creating site specific installations for public spaces around the capital.

Living and working in Switzerland, artist Julia Geiser represented La Caja Blanca at Nit de L’Art 2013. Geiser creates unique digital collages by cutting and manipulating imagery she sources from the internet. The artist represents a young generation of creatives whose lifestyle and practice is influenced by the internet and, as a result, her practice confronts issues of ownership and copyright combined with tensions between technology and art.

Geiser’s exhibition at La Caja Blanca was an especially important event at Nit de L’Art 2013 as it was her first solo show within a physical gallery space as opposed to a digital one. By doing so she bridged the gap between the non-tangible nature of digital forms and moments in art history pertaining to the white cube aesthetic.

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