Yaiza Book Week,
Vivir Hoy music event, Yaiza
The Lanzarote Art Gallery
Paco Chika, artist

The level of incidence of the pandemic in Lanzarote and the restrictions ordered by the health authorities forced the Yaiza City Council to postpone the celebration of the ninth Playa Blanca Book Fair organized for last April within the Yaiza Book Week However, the Institution took up this initiative to promote reading by scheduling it for Saturday, July 24, 2021 outdoors in the Plaza del Carmen in Playa Blanca, between 12:00 and 19:00, with all the necessary protocols against covid-19. Thankfully the event was still be able to be held despite The Canary Islands government raising Lanzarote to precautionary level two again, after only a few short weeks at level one.

The Minister for Culture of Yaiza, Daniel Medina, states that ´although it is now difficult to organize events due to the situation that we carry plagued with uncertainty, in Yaiza we make forecasts according to changing pandemic scenarios and thus we have been able to carry out cultural, educational and sports activities and leisure, respecting the restrictions imposed by each level of alert´.

Medina maintains that ´reading, promoting creation and supporting the publishing industry is a priority for Yaiza, and that is why we are pleased to give continuity to the Book Fair, one of the few remaining in Lanzarote, fostering a safe and relaxed meeting point between booksellers, readers and writers of the stature of Ismael Lozano who has confirmed his participation´.

So, it was wonderful to see the square outside the church being utilised again for such an event. There were colourful gazebos dotted around inside the square, that had been cordoned off in such a way as to leave only one entrance and exit, where temperatures were being taken, and track and trace details collected by friendly and diligent staff, who also ensured reduced numbers of entrants at any one time and observed that social distancing was adhered to. This enabled us to wander quietly around the stalls and have a good look at a slice of what constitutes literature on Lanzarote. The necessary precautions did detract somewhat from the hustle and bustle we would usually associate with an event of this kind, but the stallholders were welcoming and friendly despite our lack of any real ability in speaking Spanish.

It was noticeable that children´s literature was beautifully produced and that, similarly, the production qualities of hard back novels and coffee table books for adults were also extremely high. At a book fair welcoming to but not targeting tourists, there were plenty of titles about Manrique, lots of books about landscapes and seemingly hundreds of volumes of books about volcanoes. Of the few copies of books in English on show around 90% were by John Grisham, Stephen King or JK Rowling. I wandered around looking for copies of any of my works, but like JR Hartley in that old yellow pages advertisement, I couldn´t find any !

Music also feeds the desire for art in the municipality of Yaiza and closes the cultural program in July with the concert ‘Vivir hoy’ on Friday 30th, at 8:30 p.m., at the Benito Pérez Armas House of Culture. Almudena Hernández and Ciro Corujo will sing with the instrumental collaboration of Adrián Niz, José Vicente Pérez, Miguel Ángel and Roberto Gil.

Attendance at the recital requires prior registration as of July 23, providing full name, ID number and contact mobile phone to the email cultura@ayuntamientodeyaiza.es The City Council informs that a maximum of three people can register by mail. I can tell you we applied by 9.30 and tickets were there none. All gone ! There is a hard core audience living in Yaiza for events at this venue, and having been starved of cultural events for so long, they had all obviously been sitting by their computer ready to order their free tickets. I have requested a press pass, although that is a practice I am usually loathe to undertake, especially when an event like this is very much targeted at the indigenous islanders of Lanzarote. However, we are big fans of this type of music and particularly of these musicians and I am mindful of the thousand of readers who hang on every word of my reviews, (what do you mean, no you don´t?) It is pretty unlikely, because of restrictions etc that I will be able to find a press pass, so if there is any reader out there who will be attending, feel free to please send a review to my office at normanwarwick55@gmail.com and I will try to publish it in these Lanzarote Information pages.

Visual arts, too, are struggling manfully to re-instigate a full calendar of events. One of the major successes in doing so has been enjoyed by The Lanzarote Art Gallery, where we have attended a number of successful and well-stewarded exhibitions throughout the year

Currently housing the excellent Brushstrokes Of The Ocean exhibition until 31st July, the Lanzarote Art Gallery closes for holidays throughout August and will then return with more exciting collections.

Meanwhile, there is news of artist Paco Chika, who left Lanzarote during the global financial crisis of 2009 when the economic challenge provided an opportunity.

´I was able to sell my house in Nazaret, on Lanzarote´, he said recently, ´when circumstances led me to Denia, near Alicante. Now, things are going well, and I have one foot in Mexico and a place forever in my heart for Lanzarote´.

Paco was speaking to Lanzarote Viva, a quarterly, glossy magazine that has just published the piece in its edition for July, August and September

´I´m working with a prestigious architecture and decorating studio, and I have an exhibition celebrating Frida Kahlo and her work, which runs until August at The Adsubia Gallery´, Paco continued.

´It opened in July 2016 to showcase and sell the work of artists from Spain, France, UK, Germany and the USA and many artists from these countries have strong connections to the gallery. The Gallery is committed to taking part in the traditional and contemporary cultural actions led by Adsubia-Forna´.

Paco Chika is a biographer and painter working in the Pop Art genre and you can learn more about him and see some of his work on line at Paco Chika – Adsubian Gallery (adsubian-gallery.com)

He uses the great quality of his portraits to introduce his characters as though they have been rescued from the world of art, music, politics or cinema, ironic and even crazy situations, and in doing so he somehow brings them closer to us. Paco twists the rules of the game between theme and composition, by employing pseudo-photography that in some cases is delivered in the frame of a comic vignette and at other times shown as manga art work in others. The large format of the paintings, the vibrant colours and the magnetism of the chosen characters, invariably portrayed as mythical rather than iconic, and the ingenious concept of his compositions make his most recent work signal him as one of the most remarkable workers currently creating within Pop Art in Spain. However, the work of Paco Chika is so unique and personal that, although it begins in the style of Pop Art and is sometimes pigeon-holed as such, it is in fact soaked with a personal and artistic imprint of great genius that will no doubt continue to thrive.

He has been nominated for many, and won several, awards in recent years and has staged almost a dozen major exhibitions. He will surely yield one day soon to a call from the galleries of Lanzarote surely await his return.

¨I´m also in touch with several galleries in Mexico´, he smiles, ´which I visit frequently because my current partner is Mexican. I always return from there feeling invigorated with creative energy´.

´Of course,´ he adds, ´I have a strong cultural link with Lanzarote. Its where the artist in me was born. When I first arrived there I was working in a different field entirely but, after I recovered from a serious accident, Lanzarote is where I found my true vocation. I´ll be back, but who knows when and for how long. Perhaps I will be just swept along by the tide.´

We wonder if there may be a writer as well as an artist inside Paco. He certainly tells a good tale about his affair with his Mexican artist ! It is one of thrilling capers and escapades, as he speaks excitedly of a journey in a van and a ruinous artistic adventure in Paris. There is an emotional re-union, too, with a former colleague, then a thousand or more further kilometres in the van, and a boat journey to Las Palmas. It was there, in The Museum Of Modern Art, that he first saw the one he has been walking hand in hand with ever since.

Reading about him on line I was struck by his interest in Frida Kahlo as my writing partner Pam McKee and I were recruited, under the name of Just Poets, to work with other Artists In Schools to encourage interest in the arts and exploration of alternative career paths. We ran poetry workshops based on the works of artists like Turner, Damien Hirst, Degas, Van Gogh and Freda Kahlo. Pam was a huge admirer of Kahlo, this artist of often colourful, but nevertheless somehow melancholy works. In fact a few years later, as a mature student, Pam achieved in a degree in the History Of Leeds via the Open University.

Kahlo’s work as an artist had remained relatively unknown until the late 1970s, when her work was rediscovered by art historians and political activists. By the early 1990s, she had become not only a recognized figure in art history, but also regarded as an icon for Chicanos, the feminism movement and the LGBTQ+ movement.

Frida was the subject of an eponymous film made ´about her´. The 2002 American biographical drama film directed by Julie Taymor depicted the professional and private life of the surrealist Mexican artist. Salma Hayek starred in an Academy Award–nominated portrayal as Kahlo and Alfred Molina as her husband, Diego Rivera, The film was adapted by Clancy Sigal, Diane Lake, Gregory Nava, Anna Thomas, Antonio Banderas and unofficially by Edward Norton from the 1983 book Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera. Frida, the film, received generally positive reviews from critics, and won two Academy Awards for Best Makeup and Best Original Score among six nominations.

Anyway, back to the present. The Adsubia Gallery says of Paco, ´we are very happy to introduce you to our latest Spanish artist in the Adsubian Gallery, Päco Chika, who is currently exhibiting with us. Paco is presenting a segment of his large body of work, this one based in his adoration for the great painter Frida Kahlo, as he feels constantly inspired by her courage in the professional and personal world. This solo show will be running from the 2nd of April all the way through spring and summer, up and until the 7th of August´.

So, try to get to see it if you can but, if not, then I urge you to visit Paco´s own virtual gallery at
https://www.virtualgallery.com/galleries/paco_chika_a14497/paco_chika
to see why he is so highly thought and I´m so looking forward to seeing him back on the island having been introduced to him by a fine article in Lanzarote Viva.

Sport is very much part of the cultural offer here on Lanzarote, and although the Olympic Games are currently taking place half a world away there is, at least, a representative from Lanzarote.

Artistic gymnastics has started at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with the first subdivision of the men’s classification. All the competitors sought perfection in the different devices in the six rotations. Ray Zapata, from Lanzarote stood out in his two specialties, ground and jumping, but it was not enough to prevent Spain (241,462) from finishing fourth and last , behind China (262,061), Russia (261,945) and Ukraine (247,462). This complicates the team’s entry into the final.

However, this score has placed Zapata in third position, leaves him still with an opportunity to be among the eight gymnasts who will go to the final on the floor.  We still have to wait for the performance of Japan, Great Britain and the United States, who will participate in other subdivisions of the men’s classification, as well as those of individual gymnasts who do not have the support of a team. However, the man from our island can be happy with the exercise presented (difficulty of 6,500 and 8,541 in execution).

If he reaches the final, Zapata has a new element in his routine with which he will try to surprise the judges:

I did not do it in qualifying.´, he explained to Lancelot Digital. ´We reserved it. We had to play smart and ensure a good execution mark. In the final, obviously we will go with everything. I’m ready to play´!