Located in the Spanish port of Mahon in Menorca, a new art center on Isla del Rey will open on July 17, 2021. An exhibition by Mark Bradford will inaugurate Hauser & Wirth Menorca, featuring a dynamic suite of new paintings and sculptures. A dedicated education programme has been developed to engage both the local community and visitors in contemporary art through screenings, talks, and workshops.
Hauser & Wirth has sensitively repurposed the historical outbuildings of Isla del Rey into a 1,500 sq.m. art center around a core belief in conservation, sustainability and education. Isla del Rey is home to an imposing decommissioned naval hospital and a group of outbuildings constructed in the 18th century. The local organisation Fundación Hospital de la Isla del Rey has spearheaded the ongoing restoration of the historic hospital. The gallery worked in close collaboration with the Foundation on a conservation initiative to repurpose the outbuildings into an exhibition space with eight galleries, a gallery shop, and ‘Cantina’ restaurant.
Manuela Wirth says, “Iwan, Marc, and I are honoured and excited that Mark Bradford’s exhibition will inaugurate Hauser & Wirth Menorca. Our dream has been to place powerful contemporary art like his within this very special context. Isla del Rey is an extraordinary place of wild nature, beautiful light and sea, with a fascinating history. Our vision to create a cultural hub for Menorca has been realised over a five-year journey, and the enthusiasm shown to us by the Menorcan community and our family of artists has encouraged us at every step of the way. We look forward to welcoming our first visitors this year when we can travel again.”
Artist Mark Bradford notes, “For the past year it’s felt like we’re living on Mars, masked up, suited up, six feet apart on ground that just won’t stop moving. Eventually you’ve got to decide to move with it, to recognize that the unsteadiness is just a part of the course of history. I’m excited to share this new body of work, and look forward to steadier ground ahead.”
Hauser & Wirth Menorca will feature an outdoor sculpture trail with works by Louise Bourgeois, Eduardo Chillida, Franz West and others, in dialogue with Isla del Rey’s wildlife and the garden designed by influential landscape designer Piet Oudolf. Carefully shaped alongside the gallery buildings, the garden is characterised by a focus on structure and species adapted to the Mediterranean climate.
Paris-based, Argentinean architect Luis Laplace has led the comprehensive restoration project at Hauser & Wirth Menorca with emphasis on flexibility, sustainability and local architectural elements. Laplace has used skylights and windows to bring in light to the spacious galleries and frame the island and harbour views. The project features traditional building materials, such as tiled roof and terrazzo flooring made on site with local stones. The original wood beams have been restored, and wooden trusses added to support the structure. Environmental sustainability measures of the art center include rain-water collection protocols, reusing water for ground irrigation, and energy efficient climate control for the buildings.
Menorca is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and, in the interest of protecting the unique natural environment of its location, Hauser & Wirth Menorca is partnering with the Menorca Preservation Fund, a foundation that supports local environmental initiatives. Mar Rescalvo Pons, the Director of Hauser & Wirth Menorca, has also established local cultural partnerships with the Fundació Menorquina de l’Òpera, Escola d’Art de Menorca, Museu de Menorca, Ateneu de Maó and Festival Pedra Viva. We have invited a local Menorcan vineyard and restaurant, Binifadet, to run ‘Cantina,’ sourcing seasonal produce.
Luis Alejandre, President of the Board, Fundación Hospital de la Isla del Rey, says, “With this project Hauser & Wirth have proven their commitment to Menorca. When we first visited Hauser & Wirth Somerset we saw for ourselves how the art center became a part of the community. We are inspired to see their vision for a cultural hub on Menorca now become a reality.”