Whilst on Lanzarote last week we spent a fascinating day visiting the house of the painter, sculptor, and environmentalist, César Manrique. César Manrique (1919-1992) was a native of Lanzarote but his paintings and sculptures have been exhibited throughout the world and for a period in the 1960s he lived in America. He was friends with, and influenced by, such people as Picasso and Andy Warhol, but perhaps his greatest legacy is to be found on his native island. There he was able to influence the government to restrict the spread of high-rise hotels and sky-scrapers, and there he built a magnificent home which is now a museum, gallery and the headquarters of the Fundación César Manrique.
The house is built within one of the gigantic lava flows that so characterise the island and takes advantage of five huge volcanic lava bubbles which have been incorporated into the very design of the house. You can thus descend into the lava field itself and explore the various rooms, pools and gardens that have been sculpted directly into the rock. It is difficult to describe properly, but unforgettable to visit, so if ever you go to Lanzarote you must visit it.
The most striking feature was the way the surrounding environment of lava flows and magma bubbles seem to flow into the house and into the galleries, so that the line between art and nature is not simply blurred, but almost purposely distorted. As we walked around and viewed not just Manrique's own work but the work of many other modern artists, I found myself thinking of that memorable line from the Sainted Leonard's "That's No Way To Say Goodbye" :"you know my love goes with you as your love stays with me,
it's just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea"
It is a magical place, somewhere where the gallery itself is perhaps the most important exhibit.
And as you walk around the building, you also find yourself merging into both the environment and the artwork. So I had therefore better point out, that this is no modernist sculpture, but your very own News From Nowhere reporter seen against one of the magnificent mosaic panels in the grounds of the house.
You can discover more about the life and work of César Manrique by visiting the website of the Fundación César Manrique.