Visit our Mallorca website

+34 971 459 504

Ibiza – in search of the island’s art10th August 2016

I keep having a recurrent dream that The Donald (J Trump) is jabbing his finger into my face, then I wake up full of guilt when I admit that I cannot bear Hillary’s trouser suits and that her eyes are cold and mean. This is the advantage of living as someone from one country in another: as a self-described citizen of the world you feel justified poking your nose into everyone’s politics. So to soothe my soul and rise above this politicking, I thought I would go seeking art. I wish I understood art better. I am lost in a museum, in galleries they see me coming. I could be persuaded that an Athena print is worth 30K. Ibiza is full of houses with over-sized white walls begging to be dressed, walls owned by people with correspondingly deep pockets. Ibiza is also part of Spain, a country with a glorious art canon and Ibiza is its official artists’ colony. But like with everything in Ibiza it is easy to connect with the top layer, to procure Buddhas and sexually suggestive prints and enormous canvases with ‘LOVE’ or ‘SEX’ written in giant graffiti brush strokes, but to get under the skin of real art on the island is much harder. Serious art is hard to find and buy in Ibiza.

Then I met Alexandra Castelli, an actual artist, American, Italian, Ibiza resident, fiercely intelligent and she gave me the low-down on the Ibiza art scene (remember I can’t tell the difference between an Athena and an Andy Warhol, though I am thinking that Athenas are probably collectors’ items by now, they went bankrupt so long ago.) When I asked her how Ibiza inspires her work, aside from light and colour she said this: “Ibiza has a potpourri of people and languages, each well travelled, yet small town, idiosyncratic and mysterious.  I sit for coffee with people of all sorts and listen to the cacophony of languages and accents and feel so at home in this chaotic shifting glistening place.”

At the moment Alex Castelli paints people, mainly young ones, which strikes me as quintessentially Ibiza – a place where youth and youthful pursuits are revered and desired. Her paintings are beautiful and her collections currently centre around breathing and being underwater. Of course Ibiza is surrounded by water, it is a place where people say they find it easier to breath – literally and metaphorically.

High art has to compete with the headier pastimes on the island, like clubs and restaurants and yacht parties, pastimes that are easier to consume, that require less thinking. However, Alex explained to me, some more serious artistic foundations are being laid. Galleries like Parra and Romero have exhibited acclaimed artists like Adam Pendleton and Robert Barry and private collector and Cirque de Soleil owner (previously referred to extremely generous party giver) is involved with art projects that have shown the work of other prestigious international artists. The Museum of Contemporary art hosts interesting works, though its main attraction might the physical space – a beautiful architectural synergy of modern and old right in the centre of D’alt Vila. (Just don’t get stuck in the glass lift in summer time). Sitting in her studio, glasses of wine in hand (I could choose from all three colours), Alex started to inspire my inner-artist, so I asked her about learning to paint, about her teaching me. She quickly put me in my place, “I don’t teach art:  I teach seeing.  I teach people to “see” who they are, to articulate visually what they stand for and mean.” She spoke about highly intelligent folk wanting to paint, people who are so articulate but: “…ask a grown up to draw a person, and you will see the insecure renderings of a 10 year old, ‘I can’t draw to save my life, people say all the time.’”

I think I need an emergency meeting with OH. I have signed up for weekly painting lessons at 35€ an hour, I have also booked a few of the kids in at 35€ a session and seem to have started negotiations on some of the underwater series pieces.

I love Alex. I wonder if she’ll be my friend?


‘Rising’ by Alexandra Castelli. Oil on canvas 40 x 100cm. €2200.



For clases in oil, acrylic, pastel, pencil, observational drawing, visual literacy contact Alex on: or +34 616072073

Prices start at 35 €/hour

Painting is RISING 2016, price 2200€

Book your holiday with confidence

Charles Marlow now offers improved cancellation and rebooking options on holiday rentals due to COVID-19. For more information, leave your details and we will call you back. If you wish to see an agent, we are happy to set up a video call.

Thank you for getting in touch.

Please take a moment to let us know how you discovered the Charles Marlow website.