I must admit I was not familiar with Júlia Ribas’ work until I arrived in Can Tixedó art café on Sunday. A picture in the local newspaper, Diario de Ibiza, announcing her most recent exhibit caught my eye. My passion for all expressions of traditional Ibiza did the rest.
Sunday afternoon was unseasonably warm once again. A beautiful day to drive around the fields of the island and follow the backroads of Sant Antoni until you arrive to Can Tixedó, an old shop turned bar by the side of the road and now with a solid tradition of hosting local artists. Right next to the café is the market of Forada that takes place on saturdays and that should not be missed either if you come to Ibiza.
As soon as I entered the exhibit I was shocked. Facing me was a painting of a XVI century ibiza farmhouse that could not have been more realistic. I have seen over the years many interpretations of ibicenco fincas, ranging from the naïf to the abstract, but this painting made me feel like I never had before.
The painting makes you understand at once that you are before a farmhouse that was built out of necessity. That those that built it did so gradually, with hard work, as the family grew and additional areas were needed. You might almost be able to tell their story, their daily lives and appearance. Julia’s paintings evoke the history of the houses and the stories of those who lived in them.
I was fortunate enough that Júlia was there on Sunday. She was having lunch with family or friends, but still parted to speak to me and greet me though we had never met. She explained that part of the “realism” I felt was down to the lime she used to paint the houses. The same lime that for centuries has protected from insects and disease the farms. She also explained that the use of “betún de judea” or Bitumen of Judea was responsible for the range of brown across the painting. This was used often in homes to protect wooden objects and its use helped me recognise a tone that was familiar.
Nobody should miss Ibiza artist Júlia Ribas exhibit in Can Tixedó. I hope to find more Ibiza jewels this winter and share them with you.