Sunset Avenida: Palma de Mallorca
Having been on our radar for a while, we touch base in Palma, the capital of the Balearic Islands, to explore the city’s growing contemporary art scene.
With its seductive climate, diverse natural scenery, countless Blue Flag stamped beaches and a culinary scene worthy of any major European city, Palma de Mallorca as an all-year-round destination makes terrific sense. Although art might not be the first thing that springs to mind, the island of Mallorca has a long-standing rapport with artists. Joan Miró notably resided on the island for decades where he would also spend his last year in life. His former studio, untouched, today serves as a small yet popular museum a little west of the city centre. Smaller in size than the counterpart in Barcelona, the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Palma houses an intimate sculpture park. Combining a day at any of the handful of stunning beaches in the upscale beach town of Illetas with a visit to the museum makes for a very doable and rewarding daytrip. Bus number 3 runs frequently from the city and stops at a walking distance from the museum. Make sure to check the website for which days of the year free admission applies.
As is often the case when traveling in the name of art, time is scarce. Also, a weather forecast that reads 30 + degrees, will not rule in favour of running around in quest to find galleries from a list. A regret is not making it in time before the closing of Swedish artist on the rise, Elisabeth Frieberg’s solo show at prominent Kewenig's Palma premises. Peeking in through the massive windows was enough to tell of a seamless fit between Frieberg’s delicate abstract paintings and the space, a 13th century chapel. If pressed for time – fear not – Palma is fairly easy to navigate around. In the worst case; call a cab – they are fairly inexpensive and reliable.
Estrid Lutz 'Should I resist?' 19.05—14.07.2018 at Jelato Love.
Second stop: Jelato Love, a contemporary art space recommended to us by a friend. Founded earlier this year, the gallery, housed in a former dog grooming shop, is run by lovely couple Javier Esteban, a creative director, and Ché Zara Blomfield, a curator, writer and former director of Neumeister Bar-Am in Berlin. After years in Berlin, the couple moved down south last year. During the time of our visit, then open by appointment and following the inaugural show of Michael Pybus, Sarajevo-born Estrid Lutz’s first solo show in a gallery context was on the agenda and on view.
Próxima parada: A gallery which in recent years has emerged as a powerhouse on the Palma scene is Swedish family-run Lundgren Gallery. Initially a residency programme, by the name of Mallorca Landings founded in 2011, the operations have now evolved into a namesake gallery with permanent spaces and representation of fourteen artists. The evening of our visit to the space in trendy Santa Catalina, marked the opening of American-born sculptor Luis Gispert. Pretty much packed with what appeared to be a crowd of exclusively Swedes (the entire Swedish community on the island seemed to have gathered for the occasion), the notion of being in Palma rather than Stockholm eloped the mind for a good while.
Located on the gallery street of Passeig de Mallorca, is Galeria Fran Reus, an emerging gallery spread across two floors, working primarily with a young generation of Spanish artists. The show at hand, Marian Garrido’s Time is a wonderful material; flexible and elastic like spandex lycra, put forth mixed media sculptures (materials used include Sega games, cell phones and energy boosting beverages) all marked by an air of future nostalgia. When the favourite shows seen of the year will be summarized, it might very well make the list.
A stone’s throw away from the gallery is ES Baluard, not only the main contemporary art museum on the island but also commonly considered one of the leading in the country. Permanently installed on the lawn outside is a major work by acclaimed American minimalist sculptor Richard Serra which feels like a total luxury for any museum. Oftentimes contemporary art museums in the South can leave a little to wish for, particularly in summertime, but ES Baluard is one that holds up with a strong permanent collection to its credit. Works by contemporary art fixtures like Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Marina Abramovic with works by less expected peers like Miriam Cahn and Bouchra Khalili were currently on display. Furthermore, the museum has a lovely terrace overlooking the sea, a perfect spot to enjoy a drink after a day of being out and about. Make this place your must if and when in Palma with a limited art quota.
Other places worth visiting
Nodding to the various influences on Mallorcian cuisine, Duke serves a fusion menu in a cozy setting in Santa Catalina. Make sure to reserve a table prior.
Carrer Soller, 36
No need to travel very far for crystal blue water. Some of the best beaches on the island are situated a short bus ride away in the upscale beach resort of Illetas.
A popular brunch spot in Santa Catalina. Lovely staff and equally lovely food.
Carrer d’Anníbal, 19
A visit to this impressive Gothic Roman landmark that dates back to the 14th century is inevitable but a must.
Plaça de la Seu