Last week, we went to the Institute of Contemporary Arts to check out the excellent 'Ibiza: Moments in Love' exhibition; a collection of posters, books and photos from Ibiza's glamorous heyday in the 1970s and 80s. The show focuses on illustrator Yves Uro's designs for Ku, the first major club in Ibiza, and the work of Armin Heineman, owner of "maverick boutique" Paula's.
Lining the walls of the exhibition are the striking posters of Parisian artist Yves Uro. Drawn freehand, Uro's posters reflected the modernism of Ku, and their vibrant, often humorous style was instrumental in the formulation of an Ibizian aesthetic in the 1980s. "Yves Uro was one of my best friends", recalls Ibiza pioneer DJ Alfredo, "and a great artist that made avant-garde posters and designs for a lot of people in Ibiza apart from Ku. His posters for Ku changed the style and set a hallmark for nightlife advertising."
Despite recognition and praise from his peers, Uro's posters have remained largely unknown outside of the island. Curator David Owen was keen to change this. "It was very pleasing to see lecturers taking students to see the exhibition and to read critical reviews that took it seriously", Owen says.
"This is not for our sake, or any vanity, but most of the creative talents represented in the room didn't get that kind of respect while working. They may have got paid and seen clubs full of people but no one stood back and said what they had done was critically brilliant. Also, due to the fact that Ibiza was such a self-sufficient island, all of this work served its purpose there. They didn't enter poster designs in international competitions. They just pasted them up on the wall. None of it has really been seen outside of 1980s Ibiza."
Armin Heinemann found sanctuary in Ibiza in 1972 with his two children, following a messy divorce in Germany. He settled quickly, realising that escape was a common theme on an island where many had found a freedom to build a community, and according to shared ideals. Heinemann was renting a house with two small glassless windows, no electricity and no running water, but relished a back-to-basics lifestyle that would soon influence his work. Though a trained architect, he had no intention of returning to an office, and an opportunity to buy a cave-like clothes shop led to Heinemann swapping buildings for clothes and opening Paula's.
Paula's, however, was more than simply a clothes shop. Paula's Ibiza 25 Years, also on display at the ICA, is a celebration of Heinemann's extravagant design and art direction which, like Uro's posters, would create a new Ibizan aesthetic. "(Heinemann's) boutique in Calle de la Virgin was the most famous, and the originator of the Ibiza style" says Alfredo. "I remember that his staff used to get a cord at the entrance of the shop. Only one client could come at a time!"
A car's covered in floral material reveals Heinemann's infatuation with nature; drawing influence from the islands and its colourful inhabitants to create intricate designs and extravagant theatrical shows, that in turn uses his distinctive employees as performers and models. "All the people that worked for him were very well known in Ibiza", says Alfredo, "(they) had a special look and character, coming from different parts of the world."
Spreads from 'Paula's Ibiza', by Armin Heinemann. Courtesy of IDEA Books.
This diversity also had a strong impact on the island's clubs. Alfredo's seminal sets at Amnesia reflected the cosmopolitan crowd; mixing Beethoven and Kate Bush with The Pink Panther theme and The Cure, or house records emerging from the US. According to Alfredo, the mixed crowd and limited resources of a self-sufficient island were crucial to the sound that he developed at Amnesia: "The people were not looking for something pre-established. They never want to see a famous DJ. They were open to a new experience, and they found it."
Music for the ICA show was provided by Apiento and Phil Mason from Balearic bastion Test Pressing, and we asked Apiento to tell us a bit more about balearic culture. "I never really was into one genre or sound, so it is the perfect excuse to go and listen to any music you like. (Balearic is) a mixture - a cross section of records that have the right feeling. I think this goes back to the original days through to the new Balearic sound now."
DJs from London were famously inspired by trips to Amnesia to create their own club nights and outlets - World Unknown, Bahamian Moor and Top Nice, blogs Test Pressing and Ying Yangs - and to some extent, Andrew Weatherall's Masterpiece release and the A Love From Outer Space project, show that Balearic retains an enduring popularity in the UK. "I just think the music works", Apiento says. "It's great for girls to dance to, as it has that pop edge often, and if girls dance everyone has a good party. It's been really refreshing meeting all the South London younger lot (Bahamian Moor, Jiro, from Ying Yangs) who have got all their friends into it. It is also just generally good seeing that anything go attitude to music come back. No 4/4 all night long."
Amnesia, Ibiza. Courtesy of Alfredo Fiorito.
The Institute for Contemporary Arts, London, will host 'Ibiza: Moments In Love' until January 26th 2013. Entry is free.