7 July 2017

Manrique

Seen at Toro - the Cesar Manrique house
Cesar Manrique was born on Lanzarote in 1919 and died here in a car accident in 1992. He was many things. He was an artist, an architect, a hell-raiser, a fighter, a sculptor, a photographer, an orator,  a leader and a visionary. Long before others were beating the environmentalist drum, Manrique was warning of the dire consequences of unrestrained development and fearful about where our planet was going. He wanted us to live a different, kinder way, cherishing Nature and actively caring for our world.

In the late sixties he was exploring the lava fields south of Arrecife, the island's capital,. He noticed a tree growing from what he called a "bubble" in the  sun-baked black rock. As he explored further he discovered other solidified bubbles. They were like little caves. He had always been fascinated by Lanzarote's volcanic heritage and after making his  discovery decided  that that was where he would make his home. He called in Toro.

It took years to complete. Above the subterranean lava bubbles he designed upper buildings in the simple Lanzarote style and began to forge a different kind of home, driven by his artistic and ecological principles. It was also his workplace and here he painted many abstract canvases - increasingly influenced by his observations of the island's volcanic geology. 
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Cesar Manrique
Toro is now the epicentre of the Cesar Manrique Foundation. We visited it yesterday before driving to another of Manrique's architectural masterpieces - Mirador del Rio which was carved into a lofty clifftop and looks out to the much smaller island of Graciosa. The view was quite breathtaking and even the windows in the clifftop cafe were stunning.

After a simple late lunch by the harbour in Orzola we headed back through a coastal plain of rugged lava fields towards Arrecife then home to Puerto del Carmen which is a rather tacky kind of town. Thank heavens our apartment complex is away from the main drag. The Aqua Suites make a pleasant sanctuary, just to the east of of Calle Cesar Manrique. I am not at all sure what the artist would have thought about having a street named after him in such a sprawling tourist town that appears to shun so many of his guiding principles.
At Mirador del Rio

19 comments:

  1. That first photo is very unusual - what a striking combination of completely straight lines and geometrical shapes, contrasting with the rugged ground, and the colours!
    I've not heard of Cesar Manrique before, but the world needs more of his kind.
    At the Holiday Inn next to our office building we sometimes go for an after work drink... one of the barmen is originally from the Filipines; his name is Manrique and he serves a very delicious (and lethal) cocktail "Manrique's Special".

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    1. I bet he offers that to most female customers. I wonder if he has heard of Cesar Manrique - his namesake.

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  2. I agree with Mieke re the first photo. Very strange construction. I've got a few pieces of white board here from a couple of flat-packs that I will never get around to putting together....hmmmm....

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    1. Those two white planes are in fact thick lava stone walls - part of Manrique's house. Feeling artistic, I got myself specially lined up for that shot Lee.

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  3. Is the sea really as blue as that?

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    1. The blueness of the sea is of course only a reflection of the sky above.

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  4. I'm so jealous of your trip!

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    1. Our bed is so big that you and Gregg could have easily slept in the middle Jennifer!

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  5. Interesting! I've never heard of this guy!

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    1. He is a legend in Lanzarote and well-known throughout the Spanish speaking world.

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  6. Thank you YP., this brings back very happy memories of the times we spent in Lanzarote. It's a tragedy that César Manrique wasn't able to bring his influence to bear on the development in the rest of Spain.
    On our first visit to Lanzarote we stayed in Puerto de Carmen, which was the main tourist town back in the 70's. Later holidays we stayed in Puerto Blanco, which at the time was much smaller, little bigger than a village. No doubt it's grown enormously over the years. When we visited Mirador del Rio, we too, used to have lunch in Orzola
    I do hope you get chance to visit Jameous del Agua, too.

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    1. I am pleased to have sparked so many happy memories in your mind CG and as I said before I am envious that you got to see Lanzarote when it was relatively unspoilt.

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  7. I, too, had never heard of this artist and lover of nature. So, of course, I have spent the better part of an hour doing research. Do love his art work! There is evidently a wonderful, large, outdoor mural by him in England. Anyway, when he moved back to his island from New York, he was instrumental in persuading the "movers and shakers" to do a lot of investment so that they might attract tourists to the island. He did try to get them to do it in a non-invasive way and with the natural processes in mind at all times. But, as you noted, there are places where his wishes were not carried out. Too bad. It is a beautiful place.

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    1. I am glad that I sparked a little interest in Cesar Manrique for you Donna. He was a true artist and lived the life of an artist - reaching every moment for something higher.

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  8. I'm so jealous of your trip!

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    1. Eh? You said this earlier Jennifer.

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  9. The Island obviously has a great deal more history than many of us realise. I'm not sure whether 'like' is a word I would use to describe my feeling of the works of his his works in general (those I've found images of anyway) but intriguing and fascinating they certainly are (to me).

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    1. He wasn't just a painter of canvasses, he was a builder and a designer. He thought big - much bigger than those who consider themselves to be fine artists.

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  10. Despite your reply to Lee, I'm still having trouble understanding what the first picture is all about. Can you explain a bit more? Or do you perhaps have another picture of the same thing from a different viewpoint? This man sounds like an original and talented thinker.

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