El Huerto de las Delicias [The Garden of Delights]Martí Sabà Pagès (b. 1969)
Maçanet de Cabrenys, Girona, Spain
About the Artist/Site
The small village of Maçanet de Cabrenys is located in the famed Alt Empordà región of Spain’s Costa Brava, but not near the coast; instead, it is enveloped by some of the highest mountains in the region. Due to its isolated geography, it would have been unusual for a young man to become interested in art, and, indeed, Martí Sabà was not. But around eighteen years ago, his village initiated a festival called “Maçart.” This summer weekend event was produced for some fifteen years, and consisted of a series of small art exhibitions that were installed in different spaces within the village, and which were complemented with performances of dance, music, and poetry. Inspired by the artistic flowering all around him, around the age of thirty he himself began to paint, although he had had no art training. He began to display his canvases each year as part of the festival, and also showed his paintings in other places and at other times as well. He made it a point to view art exhibitions whenever the circumstances presented themselves, and, in particular, he visited the Dalí museum in Figueres at least once a year, as he always found something there to surprise him. He ultimately moved to that bustling city to live full-time, returning to his village on weekends; it is but a short half-hour drive away.
Sabà retained the mountain lands of his family, however, and around 2006 planted several fruit trees and different species of cactus; he had always enjoyed gardening. But even from the beginning, he wanted his property to be special, different from the other gardens of his neighbors. When he would go for hikes in the mountains, he would look for old tree trunks or twisted roots that might remind him of an animal or curious object; he would then bring them back home, paint them, and place them in his space. He would also add found objects, such as an old bicycle that he painted blue, and would even buy intriguing forms, such as a sculpture that he purchased after a trip to Florence, so inspired was he by the all-enveloping art of that city. Animal skulls, mannequin parts, and rock gardens share space with the fruit trees and cacti; they are set off by a few small paintings created directly on the rock wall on one side of the site, all that remains from an old farmhouse.
Although Sabà is in the very beginning stages of ornamenting his garden – he did not begin adding found natural or manmade objects until around 2010 – he is constantly working on making changes to it. Whenever he finds an interesting object he brings it home, but he also is constantly reviewing the works already on site, and may move them or paint them a different color. His goal is to keep making his garden bigger and better, he says, and he is happy when his neighbors in the village compliment him on its beauty. As a village road marks the perimeter of one side of the terrain, most of the works in the garden are easily viewable.
~Jo Farb Hernández, 2014
Map & Site Information
Maçanet de Cabrenys, Girona es
Latitude/Longitude: 42.3813839 / 2.7182728
La Jonquera, Catalonia