In Vejer de la Frontera, in Cádiz (Spain) there is a place in the forest like no other. In the past it was a military camp and today a meadow that serves as a museum space and artists’ studio: a forest of Mediterranean pines, oaks and cork oaks, between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean in the province of Cádiz with the north coast of Africa.
The Montenmedio Foundation Contemporánea seeks to make the relationship between nature and contemporary art increasingly intimate, because since the beginning of art history, this union has been the space where the ideas that mark a society are discussed, nurtured and shared.
Through “site specific” projects (that is, they are made especially for the space), the artists leave the conventional rooms to get in tune with the environment that surrounds them, creating absolutely special pieces of art. Visiting this forest transports you to that childhood moment when you played to find a treasure, because at each step you find an “artistic” surprise.
It reminded me of two similar projects, the Kistefos Museum in Norway or Storm King located in the north of NY. The first is a former pulp mill that has been the largest open-air museum in the Nordic countries since 1996 thanks to its contemporary sculpture park, and the second is a 500-acre space that also features outdoor sculptures and projects of specific site.
However, the Contemporary Montenmedio Foundation gives a completely different sensation. Here you walk until you come across wonderful works made from nature by artists such as Marina Abramovic, Santiago Sierra, Olafur Elliasson, Sol LeWitt or one of the few Skyspace that James Turrell has installed around the world.
But there are other artists who have left their mark on the history of space. The Foundation has a collection of works authored by more than 40 artists, including pieces such as sculptures, installations, photography, video, performance, architectural projects in nature, among others.
Its founder is Jimena Blázquez Abascal, collector and patron of art. She is very clear that supporting the development of artists and their creative processes is essential, which is why she has become a kind of fairy godmother and protector of the arts. In addition to having created the Foundation and this spectacular forest of art; Ella Jimena spends her time giving talks about collecting, art and patronage. Her commitment and her determination have led her to win awards and I celebrate her, because it is not easy to achieve what she has done to keep the art ecosystem turning and advancing where it needs to go.
As if that were not enough, the Foundation has workshops and guided tours, recitals and live concerts. They also want the community that surrounds the Foundation to come closer and see it as a safe place where they can learn about contemporary art.
I hope the pictures make you really want to visit this site, because even though it is a very well kept secret in Spain and southern Europe, being there is such a magical experience that I would love for more people to have the chance to see. live it
Gallery owner and cultural promoter
Photographs courtesy of Karen Huber and internet