Deia artist and musician Brendan McCann has an exhibition at Fundació Cultural Coll Bardolet in Valldemossa up until 2 July, which should be well worth looking in on. Brendan’s exhibition also offers a great excuse to check out Valldemossa if you haven’t already done so.
Brendan McCann, who first came to Deia aged four with his mother Frances and brother Patrick, went to school in the village, in what is now the ajuntamento and his teacher was Don Jaime, ‘a man very open to creativity’ Brendan says.
Another great influence on Brendan’s development was his mother Frances Graves, the Deia painter and long-time singer with the Pa Amb Oli band.
Brendan McCann came back to Deia from Australia when he was 28, 16 years ago, and he’s lived in the village ever since – making art and music. I’ve always liked Brendan’s work and his exhibition in Valldemossa gave me a great excuse to talk to him about what he’s been doing since we last spoke.
Your painting seems to have evolved a fair amount, Brendan. Why is that?
The exhibition documents a year holed up in my little house in the Clot, in Deia. I’ve hardly played music at all this year. This has given me plenty of time to paint without pressure. I find painting the opposite of music in that way. It’s better for me if I relax and allow the work to develop.
As Picasso, one of my heroes, said ‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working’.
Focusing on the painting has meant transitioning from a musician’s lifestyle which, let’s say, involves a fair bit of partying, to focused, solitary work and I love it. It’s a pleasure to be really motivated and to feel I’m growing as a painter. For instance, I’ve started working in oils and this adds a whole other dimension of expressiveness.
I feel like it’s my first language. I find it a fairly unintellectual exercise so when people interpret my pictures in highly imaginative ways, it blows my mind.
Do you have any particular stylistic preferences?
People always ask me: what sort of stuff do you? But I like a bit of everything. There are landscapes, work that’s more visceral, abstracts and a bit of Aboriginal influence in there. I didn’t go to art school, which I see as a real advantage because it curbs the tendency to be forever placing oneself into a category like cubism or some other style.
How do you feel about exhibiting in Valldemossa?
It’s exciting for me and represents a big step forwards. Don’t forget, a few years ago I was showing my paintings on the street and selling one every now and then. Moving into showing in a professional space really feels like progression to me.
Me too, Bren. Good luck!
And now for Valldemossa.
My favourite thing to do in Valldemossa is not actually in the village. I love to take the splendidly winding road down to the Port de Valldemossa to the tiny, rocky cala where there’s also an excellent fish restaurant.
Maybe halfway down the road to the cala, off to your right, there’s an easy walk under fragrant shady pines that takes you back above the coast in the direction of Deia. The path takes you past what was Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones’s house. This is beautiful, and rather more Arabic-looking than most houses in Mallorca.
I have no idea if this is true but I’ve been told the reason Michael and Catherine sold up is that, when they bought the house, no one told them that, thanks to Archduke Luis Salvator of Austria, who originally owned the land, ordinary people have the right to walk through their garden once a year. Not something a Hollywood star would welcome.
Eating in Valldemossa
Gemma, who writes Hidden Gems for this blog, recommends Es Roquissar. She describes it as having ‘Seriously mouth watering food, a relaxed atmosphere and cosy, welcoming and caring staff, an open kitchen – which is always a winner in my view and a beautiful tree growing up through the middle of the bar!’
Which sounds like a rather good recommendation. You’ll find Es Roquissar in a quiet square by the Chopin Musuem.
Gemma also suggests you try Pizzeria Vesubio, a few meters away from where the buses to and from Palma stop. This family-owned restaurant combines ‘a passion for Italian cuisine fused with Mediterranean flavours’. Sounds good.
Following in artistic footsteps
Should you decide to visit Brendan’s exhibition and take a wander around Valldemossa, and I hope you do, you’ll be following in some pretty weighty artistic footsteps.
Apart from Chopin – and Bren – other notable visitors to Valldemossa include British painter John Singer Sargent, Nicaraguan poet Rubén Dario and Argentinian magical realist writer Jorge Luis Borges. Sargent, who spent several months at Villa Son Mossenya in 1908, described his time there as ‘ideally happy’.
You may only have hours instead of months but let’s hope the same can be said of your trip to Valldemossa.
Brendan McCann’s exhibition runs until 2 July and is open every night until 19.00. Fundació Cultural Coll Bardolet is on Calle Blanquerna, heading down towards Plaza Ramon Llull.