Contemporary artists Anastasiia Podervianska, Pixy Liao and Sislej Xhafa will take turns being artist in residence at La Residencia, a Belmond Hotel this summer. For the hotel, this is the next step in raising its artistic profile.
When this blog spoke to La Residencia General Manager Thomas Moon in the spring of this year, he told us ‘Art is in our DNA. It’s been fundamental from the very beginning. But it was always very much focused on Deià. We realized that, if we want to become the best hotel in Spain, local art is not going to be enough to give us national recognition. So, in addition to continuing our relationships with local artists, we’ve started collaborating with internationally acclaimed art gallery Galleria Continua and their Mitico project.’
Startling sculpture Hunger by Italian Arcangelo Sassolino coming to life on the hotel’s manicured front lawn in early May was La Residencia’s first major step in pushing its boundaries. The artists in residence programme offers guests the opportunity to experience challenging contemporary art in its idyllic surroundings.
Anastasiia, at La Residencia in May and June, was the first artist in residence this summer. Ukrainian, she specialises in textile art. Lysenko, the gallery that represents Anastasia, describes her work as unique in the world of textiles.
According to Lysenko, she ‘explores a wide range of ideas through her pieces, with a particular interest in contrasts — tradition and the new, life and death.’
Anastasiia’s work is in a number of museum and private collections. It has been exhibited all over the world.
It goes without saying that the contrast between war-torn Ukraine and Deià is immense. When she first came to the village, Anastasiia ‘felt like I had arrived in paradise. The artistic enclave of Deià and the hotel truly are a paradise for creation’.
Like the other artists, Anastasiia stayed at the hotel, close to her studio. She made three large textile canvases. When she wasn’t working she explored the island. ‘Its beauty and architecture are amazing,’ she says, ‘I am in love with the island, Deià and La Residencia.’
Anastasiia feels that ‘the time I spent here gave me a lot of energy and strength’. When her time as artist in residence was over, she continued her work, planning solo exhibitions in Ukraine and abroad.
She is also ‘trying to help my friends who are in the Ukrainian forces. This is the least I can do as a civilian.’
Installaton artist Sislej, from Kosovo and based in New York, is the second of the three artists in residence this summer. He arrived in July and will stay until the end of August.
About him, art critic Guido Molinari wrote, ‘The condition of relentless traveller, throughout the West and Beyond, allows Sislej Xhafa to keep in constant touch with current social, economic and aesthetic shifts and pour these back into his own works.’
Sislej entered the competition to be an artist in residence at La Residencia because ‘The idea of immersing myself in a new environment, surrounded by nature and a rich cultural heritage presented an incredible opportunity for inspiration. It will allow me the time and space to embrace my spirit through my works.’
He is ‘excited about the prospect of engaging with the local traditions, history, and stories that have shaped Deià and Mallorca. I aim to allocate a significant portion of my time to exploring the natural surroundings, capturing the essence of Deià’s landscapes. I will spend time in the profound stillness where nature unravels into a mere whisper.’
Shanghai-born New York-based photographer Pixy Liao has become known for her photographs which, as the Guardian recently put it, ‘comically invert the male gaze’.
She will be at La Residencia during September and October.
Pixy has had international solo and group shows. She has won a number of awards including the prestigious NYFA Fellowship in Photography.
This won’t be Pixy’s first time in Mallorca. Together with her boyfriend Moro, who appears in many of her photos, she visited the island first in 2022. ‘We really loved the landscape and hoped to come back,’ she says. ‘La Residencia is the perfect artist residency for us. It’s something we’ve never experienced before.’
Pixy’s two months in Deià with Moro is ‘probably the longest trip for us to a foreign country. When we’re here, we’ll take our photos together and make songs about our time in the village.’
For La Residencia, being able to offer important contemporary artists space to be inspired and make their art is undoubtedly a major step towards the national recognition Thomas Moons is after. But it’s more than that.
In the past, Deià was home, permanent or temporary, to artists from all over the world making important work that would help them to an international reputation. Len Lye and Mati Klarwein come immediately to mind.
By opening up its artist in residence programme to contemporary artists, La Residencia is doing more than burnishing its own reputation and offering guests another experience. It is reconnecting with the true avant-garde spirit of the village.
Hunger will be on La Residencia’s front lawn for the whole of the summer. It moves for ten minutes three times a day, at 10am, 3pm and 7pm as well as on request. The studio in which artists in residence work is near to the El Olivo restaurant. One of Anastasiia’s pieces is on display on the ground floor. If you’re lunching at La Residencia, take a look.