T HIS week we are venturing out of the water and into the artist's studio. Strangely enough, the artist's studio takes us right back into the water again. It seems there is no escaping the sea for me.

In case you are new to the Bulletin, I must confess to having a traditional sailing fetish of the highest order. Llaüts (traditional Majorcan fishing boats) are without a doubt my favorite things in the entire world. So strong is my affection for these boats, that I have restored a turn of the century, 12 meter wooden one called El Gordito.

The artist we are interviewing today is Hugo Soto Fraga. Originally from the beautiful country of Uruguay, Hugo has been living and painting in Majorca since 2003. I met Hugo and his art a few years ago in Palma, whilst walking down the Borne.

Obviously what caught my eye first was his subject matter, llaüts, lots of them! Hugo, like myself confesses a deep love for these special little boats. Asked why he likes to paint in Majorca? his answer was clear, “the light”. Majorca has a light unlike any other. This sentiment has been echoed time and again by artists throughout history. There is a brightness to the light in Majorca that can't be ignored. Even the stone used in the construction of traditional houses has a special reflective quality to it.

I could rattle off a list of art shows Hugo has exhibited in, prizes he has been awarded, etc., etc, but frankly that bores me. It only takes one look at the quality of his work to see you are dealing with a talented artist.

I will however mention a few facts that I find most interesting, Hugo trained under the guidance of two very special Uruguayan artists in Majorca, Eduardo and Alcue Ribeiro. These two brothers are products of the famed constructivist teacher Joaquin Torres Garcia in the US. Eduardo has passed away but his 93 year old brother Alcue is still painting in Palma.

Living directly by the sea, one can understand where Hugo's inspiration comes from. Not content with simply gazing out across the water, Hugo has somewhat pioneered the art of kayak painting. What I mean is, Hugo plonks his easel on his kayak and paddles off. I have never seen this before in my life!, what a great idea. This intrepid artist can search out fantastic new subject matter inaccessible to the less creative person.

Many moons ago I myself was a young art student in Washington DC. My preferred medium like Hugo´s, is acrylic paint. Hugo, why do you like acrylics? “I like acrylic paint because it forces me to paint at speed”. “Acrylic dries fast unlike oils”. “For me, the devil in painting is in the fine details, one has photography for that”. “I like to capture a scene with a minimum of well placed brush strokes.” “This is much harder than one might believe”.

One day whilst painting in Placa España in Palma, a gentleman approached Hugo and inquired into the cost of one of his paintings. Hugo told him the work in question was 250 euros. The inquisitive gentleman scoffed and took a step back. “250 euros! why, you did it in two hours?” “ Yes” explained Hugo to the gentleman, “I may have completed the piece in two hours but it has taken me 25 years of training to accomplish this feat.” “I could not paint without music” confesses Hugo. “Mozart and Beethoven are my favorite classical composers.” Meeting Hugo many years ago and having the chance to interview this wonderful artist today, was a true pleasure. Apart from his immense talent, Hugo is a very humble person. He is a family man. Hugo exhibits all over the island, from five star hotels to fine art galleries. Majorca is teaming with excellent artists of every medium. Unlike the arrogant scene in New York and Paris, Majorca is softly elegant. We have all the greats represented here, we just feel no need to ram them down your throat. Take my teacher Ellis Jacobson for example. Ellis in my humble opinion is one of the best artists of our century. Don't know of him? I'm not surprised. Like I said, quiet elegance. Miro, Picasso, they are all here.

If you are interested to know more about Hugo's work or llaüts in general please email me. I hope you have enjoyed this time on land. Next week it's back in the water, well......with a twist! Fair winds amigos, come on back next Tuesday! Capt. Lawrence

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