César Brought To Book

It is impossible almost to visit Lanzarote without becoming aware of the name of the late artist, César Manrique. His name is over the sliding doors that you pass through to enter the airport terminals. For many years he was a pivotal figure in Lanzarote attitudes and policies, and remains so even in death. At a time when our President either slightly mis-spoke or was massively miss-quoted or mis interpreted, he may still be a voice from beyond the grave who, thanks to a new biography, The Artist And The Beauty Of The Place, might just help us all to focus again on our island that gives us so musch tho share in the present and the future and a long and proud heritage of triumph over severe adversity.

Jameos del Agua hosted the presentation of the book ‘César Manrique y Haría. The artist and the beauty of the place’, by Francisco Galante. The Professor of Art History at the University of La Laguna, one of the greatest connoisseurs of César Manrique, was accompanied by the Minister of Culture, the rector of the ULL, the Mayor of Haría, the César Manrique Foundation, and friends and acquaintances.

News of this was published in La Voz de Lanzarote on 5th March 2023 and the organisation further revealed that The Jameos del Agua Auditorium experienced one of its great nights with the presentation of the book ‘César Manrique y Haría. The artist and the beauty of the place’, written by Francisco Galante, Professor of Art History at the University of La Laguna, member of the Advisory Committee of the César Manrique Foundation and, without a doubt, one of the greatest and deepest connoisseurs of the vital and artistic trajectory of the artist from Lanzarote.

Galante was accompanied by the Minister of Culture of the Cabildo de Lanzarote, Alberto Aguiar; the rector of the University of La Laguna, Rosa Aguilar; the Mayor of Haría, Evelia García; the CEO of the Tourist Centers, Benjamín Perdomo; representatives of the César Manrique Foundation, workers and ex-workers of the Tourist Centers and friends and acquaintances of the artist.

The Minister of Culture of the First Island Institution, Alberto Aguiar, thanked Galante “for letting us know a more unknown facet of César Manrique through this documented, detailed and enriching literary portrait that contextualizes the extraordinary symbiosis that existed between an artist and this municipality reflected here, in Jameos del Agua, better than anywhere else”.
´Manrique chose to live in Haría because, he said, he could lead a more harmonious and peaceful life here. Here he not only created beauty, with works such as the Mirador del Río, the hermitage of Máguez, the Malpaso viewpoint or his toy of the Wind of Arrieta, but he also generated jobs and wealth for the sons and daughters of the municipality.

“His work is so impressive that it is not possible to understand Lanzarote without his contributions. César Manrique, his thought and his work, will continue to accompany us in the challenges we face in the future,” said Aguiar, who did not want to end without referring to the César Manrique Foundation, “custodian of the artist’s work and legacy, a beacon and vigilance through a fruitful cultural policy and a solid commitment to the territory”.

For her part, Rosa Aguilar highlighted the excellence of a bibliographical work of “very high level”, and recalled that the Tenerife university center will teach the César Manrique cultural chair that will serve to publicize the thought and work of this genius from Lanzarote after an agreement signed with the Cabildo de Lanzarote.

The Mayor of the Haría City Council, Evelia García, pointed out that “César Manrique knew how to appreciate the natural and heritage beauty that the municipality of Haría treasures, giving it an unprecedented artistic dimension. The sensitivity shown in each of his spatial interventions allows us to appreciate and feel the unique beauty of our closest environment. The relationship between César Manrique and Haría was always very special and, for this reason, Haría will continue to be the faithful guardian of his legacy and memory.

Nilo Palenzuela, writer and Professor of Spanish Literature at the University of La Laguna, reviewed the content of a prologue that concludes “Manrique’s dream and utopia become the reverse of the environmental catastrophe. The artist proclaims beauty. He turns against speculation and does so with his work, with his shared dream. It is this dream that comes to his young friend Francisco Galante, now with the age of his old teacher. It is the dream that is expressed in César Manrique y Haría. The artist and the beauty of the place, a book of knowledge, and also of resistance”.

Francisco Galante, for his part, made the public aware of the motivations that prompted him to work on this new literary work and outlined a rigorous and meticulous synopsis of ‘César Manrique y Haría. The artist and the beauty of the place’. “The work of César Manrique”, he stressed, “has historical, social, cultural and environmental connotations. A work guided by ethical principles and by the value of justice. It is a unique and universal work due to its social character, devoted to the destiny of a new economic model for the island, to the recovery of reviled landscapes and to the wise integration of artistic disciplines in which it combines with great sensitivity the elements of culture. identity with the artistic languages ​​of contemporaneity”.
The event ended with the screening of a documentary, awarded in the national documentary competition held in 2022 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, around a conversation held between César Manrique and Francisco Galante.

The artist and the beauty of the place´ he created, said La Voz, has been and will continue to be promoted by the Tourist Centres, the Haría City Council and the César Manrique cultural chair that is taught at the University of La Laguna, sponsored by the Cabildo de Lanzarote.

I hope The Cabildo and other parties will acknowledge that not only are the native peoole of Lanzarote proud of Manrique and his heritage but so too are many of the thousands of new residents here on the island. Many people from other countries now making new lives out here seek to contribute to the economy of a new homeland and to raise global awareness of the island. Lanzarote Information, Lanzarote Gazette, and readers of this daily blog at Sidetracks And Detours first learn of César through these publications.

Indeed, inducted as an MBE in the last Honour list, Larry Yaskiel.(and his wife Liz) have done a quite incredible job of making the quarterly issue of the glossy Lancelot magazine, of which Larry is the Honorary Editor, part of essential reading for both new ´settlers´and tourists alike. He has written a book that tells of the connections between The Canary Ilsands and The British Isles and reveal that such connections that span five centuries.

Of course, Cesar´s legacy must be maintained b y the islands, and all his vision must be realised ion the future too. His political (with a small p) awareness has stood the island in good stead over last thiry years since his death. Through tourist booms, covid pandemics, recessions and uncertainty what visitors to our island remember to tell their friends and families when they go back home is all about the one-story ´colour-coded´ homes, the music and singing and dancing and genuine love and pride for the history and resiliance of a people who have withstood and re-invented sine the volcanic eruptions of four hunded years ago.

The friends and families who learn more about Lanzaqrote and Manrique probably then come visit for themselves. Whilst here they will pick up some of the afore-mentione magazines and lear more, and maybe even visit some of government sustained tourist sites under the C.A.C.T banner, and return home to enthuse even previous visitors to come again.

Of such stuff is legend made..

The Voz article informed me that  the author of the book, Francisco Galante, is a doctor in Philosophy and Letters, professor of Art History at the University of La Laguna, professor, advisory member and researcher at the University of Leuven (KU-Leuven), in Flanders, director of the ‘César Manrique Cultural Chair ‘ from the University of La Laguna and member of the advisory committee of the ‘César Manrique Foundation’.

In his field of study, and as specific areas of research, he has addressed the phenomenon of integration between art and nature in contemporary architecture oriented towards the analysis and reflection of environmental, landscape and ecological issues, paying special attention to the work of Cesar Manrique. He has also dealt with artistic and cultural relations between Flanders and the Canary Islands, as well as Spanish cultural heritage and its links with Europe and Latin America. On the other hand, he is interested in the study of the city that he has analyzed from the perspective of cultural image of collective memory.
With references to these disciplines, he has published numerous books, monographs, studies and articles in scientific journals and has given lectures at national, European and American universities, and at other international institutions. Likewise, he has developed research at European universities and research centres, directs university research groups, doctoral theses and university specialization works.

Another of his activities as a researcher is aimed at organizing international exhibitions, working, on the other hand, as an essayist and art critic. He has also made scripts for various cultural themes for film, television and other media.
In addition, he is part of various advisory councils of cultural institutions and international scientific journals. In this sense, for example, he is a member of the Foundation Committee of the ‘Óscar Domínguez Institute of Contemporary Art’, of the Library of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and of the Institute of European Culture, established in Belgium.
The book has come out at the right time, really: Although Lanzarote´s tourist figures remain staggering, (my editor at Lanzarote Information often reports on some new record figure being broken) it is nevertheless true that, post-covid, politicians here, including the President, Maria Dolores Corujo began to think-tank a new way forward for tourism with the notion of niche holidays, (sport, literature, art etc) was mooted. She has since spoken of tourism again and though her words were largely misinterpreted, the gist of her concern was about how we manage constantly rising visitor numbers whilst sustaining the viability of the island´s life-style.

I would wager that this new book will have echoes of Cesar´s wisdom that will have us nodding our heads sagely, and exclaiming, (Sooty like) ´Yes, that´s the way to do it´.

And, good people of the Cabildo, if you need ideas or help from those of us who have come to live here over the past ten years, then please add to your contact list for events such as that described above, the titles of foreign language press and media that reach beyond the island and out into the people who come to visit.

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