Where art meets the beach


Art is not the first thing that springs to mind when you think about Ibiza, but the island is always a source of surprise and delight, and those keen to pull back the myriad layers of this magical destination will find a thriving art scene. One of the forerunners in bringing art to Ibiza is Colombian-born collector Lio Malca, who transformed La Nave Salinas, a disused salt warehouse overlooking the velvet sands of Las Salinas beach, into a hub of creativity.

La Nave Salinas opened its doors in 2015 with a show by KAWS who has since gone on to become a darling of the international art world. That Malca was an early admirer of the artist comes as no surprise. He has always been attracted to controversial makers who use pop-culture as a foundation for social commentary. In fact, his very first acquisition many years ago was by a starving young New Yorker called Jean-Michel Basquiat – Malca’s eye for talent is unrivalled. For his La Nave Salinas show, KAWS placed a seven-metre high sculpture of a dystopian Disney-fied character in the centre of the warehouse-like space, surrounded by a series of paintings.

While Lio Malca is the hands-on founder of La Nave Salinas, the space is guided on a day-to-day basis by the steady hand of gallery director Alejandra Navarro. Also from Colombia, Navarro met Malca in New York soon after she graduated from art school. “I’ve been managing his collection since 2008,” she says. “He’s very intuitive. There’s no formula. Most of the projects happen flexibly and have a natural flow.” Navarro’s first trip to Ibiza in 2015 was to see the space Malca had found to share his collection with the island he loves so much. “I used to come in the summer to oversee the shows. Then I met my husband and after our second project, I moved here permanently,” she says. Navarro now splits her time between New York and Ibiza. “It’s turned out perfectly. I get to be in both of the places I love.”

visual lights art innovation

Following the KAWS show came Megaplex (Civilisation 2008, Evolution 2010, Creation 2012) by Marco Brambilla. The gallery was ensconced in red velvet curtains and 3D glasses were handed out to patrons before they leaned back on beanbags to lose themselves in Brambilla’s cinematic fantasy. A triptych of 3D video collages tested the limits of the visual, looping through pop-culture and celebrating the absurdities of Hollywood. One of the gallery’s most popular shows took place two years later; an immersive Keith Haring exhibition in 2017 featuring four of the much-missed artist’s most seminal works; Untitled (DV8), Channel Surf Club – Knokke, Untitled (Headstand) and Pop Shop Tokyo. Malca was an early collector of Haring’s works, which he came across in the artist’s early days in New York City. The exhibition was an homage of sorts to his friend, in addition to providing Ibiza with a unique opportunity to truly experience Haring’s world.

Next up was an emotive video installation by Bill Viola; Fire Woman and Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall). Projected onto an enormous screen, these video works transported the viewer into another dimension. Viola used the elemental forces of fire and water to explore themes of desire, the body and the human condition with references to belief and the mystical. In the summer of 2018, the gallery took an altogether lighter tone with a colour-filled show by Kenny Scharf. Universalis contained 137 circular paintings by Scharf and marked the artist’s first show in Spain in 20 years. Scharf started out as a muralist and graffiti artist and over the course of the exhibition, La Nave also held a lottery for guests to have their cars custom spray painted.

art is a way to understand the world around you

For Navarro herself, art is about communication, self-realisation and understanding. “I think art is a way to understand the world around you,” she explains. “It is an uplifting thing; it helps the spirit and it helps explain ourselves. And it travels through generations. The message of art is what remains, even if the artist is gone.” Over the five years La Nave Salinas has been operating, Navarro has extended her concept of art’s purpose to include a broad educational program.

Throughout summer, the gallery holds free weekly workshops for children and during the school year, more than 50 schools send their first, second and third grade students to La Nave Ibiza for immersive art experiences. “We want the kids to understand the processes of the artists and live it,” explains Navarro. “We design a specific workshop around each exhibition and invite special guests to participate.” The first year, they focused on drawing while subsequent workshops have utilised guest chefs and body workers to explore the themes and methods of each show. “The kids come back year after year and you see them grow as they remember what they did in the previous year,” says Navarro. “It’s really beautiful.”

passion for art and CRYSTALLINE waters

The building that houses the gallery is really a work of art in itself. The sandstone structure was originally built by the government after the civil war as a way to create jobs within the salt industry. However, global political events and shifts in Ibiza’s primary industries meant the building stayed unused until Malca discovered it. Malca’s vision was to show his gratitude and love for Ibiza through his passion for art. La Nave Salinas functions as a not-for-profit foundation, with the specific purpose of augmenting the island’s cultural landscape. With grit and determination, Malca and Navarro convinced the local authorities to allow the transformation of the space. Now, every summer visitors, locals, grown-ups and kids alike get to experience world-class art and then go for a swim in the crystalline waters of Salinas beach afterwards – only in Ibiza do the two go together so well.

During the summer months, guests of 7Pines Kempinksi Ibiza are welcome to a private tour of La Nave Salinas with Alejandra Navarro as their personal guide.

Contact our Concierge team during your stay for more information.

E: concierge.ibiza@7Pines.com                                                          T: +34 971 195 200


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