Apr 20, 2017 | By Sandy Chu
When I visited Lanzarote this summer, my expectation was to lose myself in the vast nature that this volcanic island has to offer. Being one of the least populated of the Canary Islands, I imagined seeing very little culture, right? Wrong! I discovered an amazing island and the work of a remarkable man: César Manrique.
Manrique and Lanzarote are linked together in a way that discovering one, means discovering the other. He was born in Lanzarote in 1919 and was a multidisciplinary artist: painter, architect, sculptor, ecologist and landscape gardener (among others) who reached success in New York as a painter. Then in the mid 1960’s, aged 48, he returned to his birthplace with the mission to show Lanzarote to the world from his unique point of view.
The main fundament of his work was to exalt nature with every creation so that each paved street, home, sculpture or garden would pay a tribute to the volcanic scenery. He created a new ideal where art and nature meet. He got to know the humble locals to learn and understand how to adapt and create life in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. And left a legacy on how life should be developed in Lanzarote without ever disrespecting the environment.
But his labour was not always peaceful; he fought unplanned urbanism and defended his vision to the point where he would go out at night to remove all advertising ads. Lanzarote is still up to this date, probably the only place in Europe with no advertising ads.
His passion for life is reflected in all his works. Imagine listening to an orchestra perform inside a cave, eating a meal cooked by geothermal heat (the heat from inside a volcano) or enjoying the view from the highest mountain ridge. All of Manrique’s works: Jameos del Agua, Cueva de los verdes, Mirador del agua and Taro to name a few, achieved this with the convergence of nature, modernism and art.
He died in a car crash 50mts. away from his foundation in 1992. But left all “Conejeros” (Lanzarote’s demonym) with the heritage of not only his works but also the knowledge and awareness to respect the islands further growth. Cesar Manrique’s vision of sustainability and ecology remain a valid and current reference on how man and nature can indeed coexist in harmony.
See more at the Cesar Manrique Foundation
Picture credit: All photos by Francisco Blanco.
Like this? Check out Maria’s blog celebrating photographer Vivian Maier and her influence on street style photography here.
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