At the entrance of the area of "Los Alisios” we are welcomed by a bronze bust in homage to César Manrique, which serves as a turning point to learn a little bit more about the artist's life and the evolution of his work.
Born in Arrecife, Lanzarote, the 24th of April of 1919, Manrique lived and traveled all over the world, learning about different cultures, gaining artistic influences and showing his work. However, he always longed for his birthplace, to which he returned to establish his residence until the day of his death, the 25th of September of 1992.
Raised in a middle-class family, Manrique spent his childhood by the sea, among fishermen and an arid landscape, sometimes even inhospitable, where he learned to appreciate the beauty of nature, which we sometimes unconsciously associate with the green of the forests; but which is also made up of the wind, sand, rocks and deserts.
His father Gumersindo was a merchant by profession, and he already had a certain artistic sensibility, being fond of photography. Other friendships from his childhood, such as the one he made with the Millares, a cultured and wealthy family that had moved from Gran Canaria, would be influences of great importance for his development as an artist.
He took part in the Spanish Civil War, on the Franco side, and it is said that on his return to Lanzarote he went up to his terrace, stripped off his uniform, trampled it and set it on fire, never speaking again about his experience in the war.
A few years later he moved to Tenerife to begin studying to become a Quantity Surveyor, but he abandoned it two years later, in 1945, and he moved to Madrid in order to follow his true passion, Fine Arts, where he graduated as a painter. Although Manrique is considered a multifaceted artist, and is well known for his architectural works, he did not have a degree in Architecture. In 1964, after the death of his romantic partner, the aristocrat Pepi Gómez, who had introduced him to the artistic and social sphere of Madrid, he moved to New York, which had become the art capital of the world after World War II. There he absorbed important influences mainly from pop art. In 1966 he would return to Lanzarote, where he settled his permanent residence.
Those life experiences were forever engraved on his retina, becoming later an essential part of his work, an imaginary brimming with nature and tradition, but with certain touches of modernity; that would determine his personal and creative trajectory and that would always be present in his compositions.
Manrique always claimed a respectful and sustainable urbanism, where the human being has a relationship with the environment based on dialogue and not on aggression, avoiding landscape impacts as much as possible. The success of his ideas is still palpable today, especially on the island of Lanzarote, where art and nature meet hand in hand in every corner, and the houses stand out for their white colors, their wood and stone elements, and its homogeneity, even being forbidden to built constructions that do not follow these parameters. This was possible in large measure thanks to one of his childhood friends, Pepín Ramírez, who became president of the Cabildo de Lanzarote at the time, and trusted in the vision of the future of the island that Manrique had presented to him.