Cultural Center Andratx Becomes Mallorca’s Art Hotspot This Summer with COLLABORATIONS On Vacation

Interior garden of the Cultural Centre Andratx where COLLABORATIONS On Vacation takes place
Cultural Centre Andratx hosts an extensive summer program curated by Tania and Thomas Asbæk under their project COLLABORATIONS On Vacation.

By Adam Hencz

“Believe it or not, not many people invite art experiences into their holiday calendar. But we are trying to change that.”

Thomas Asbæk

Just a short drive from Palma de Mallorca, in picturesque surroundings by the south side of the Tramontana mountains, stretches a vast, everchanging creative space. From young, emerging artists embracing the abundance of the island and working in four dedicated residency studios, through art fairs and in situ exhibitions, to hosting brand new works by internationally recognized artists, this summer, the Cultural Centre Andratx transforms into a multifaceted art experience. Its summer program curated by Copenhagen-based art space directors Tania and Thomas Asbæk kicked off on Friday, July 8th, when the 4000 m2 art center has become one of the most exciting cultural places on Mallorca and a must-see gateway for contemporary art lovers.

We had a chat with Thomas Asbæk about the unique cultural space and its seminal contemporary summer program under “COLLABORATIONS On Vacation.”

Portrait of Tania and Thomas Asbæk, curators of COLLABORATIONS On Vacation.
Tania and Thomas Asbæk. Photograph by David Stjernholm.


“You can sit here and contemplate looking at the rugged limestone mountains, climb a cliff to have a view of the Mediterranean Sea, or jump right into the buzz of rich cultural hotspots of the island,” says Thomas, pointing out the exceptional location of the cultural center. Founded by his parents Jacob and Patricia Asbæk in 2001, Cultural Centre Andratx is one of the largest centers of contemporary art in the Balearic Islands as well as the rest of Europe, where both art lovers and collectors will have a chance to satisfy their art appetite this summer.

COLLABORATIONS On Vacation kicks off with three art events curated by Thomas and his wife Tania in collaboration with art dealer and innovator Johan König. The exhibitions run until August 13th and include one of Austria’s foremost contemporary painters, Xenia Hausner –represented by König Galerie – and her large enigmatic portraits of women displaying her expressionistic and vibrant use of color. Simultaneously, a curated solo exhibition of contemporary Danish artist Cathrine Raben Davidsen hosts large-scale paintings and charcoal drawings. Last but not least, the summer program also focuses on young and emerging talents in collaboration with through the Artist Fair, running for a short period from July 8th-24th.

Installation view of Xenia Hausner's solo exhibition at CCA.
Installation view of Xenia Hausner’s solo exhibition titled Unintended Beauty.

“We are bringing Artist Fair to Mallorca to create a fresh cultural vibe on the island and make young people re-find and discover an interest in art,” tells Thomas. “It is our chance now to create awareness around young artists and to get young visitors of the island as well as local residents to stop by and visit. Believe it or not, not many people invite art experiences into their holiday calendar. But we are trying to change that.”

“At the same time, we have curated two solo exhibitions as well,” continues Thomas. “We also aim to create interest in our program for a more mature audience. We wanted to brush things up a little here in Mallorca, so we have been working with art dealer Johan König, who is always up for developing projects in new ways. And we believe that the art world needs that kind of energy.”

Installation view of Artist Fair as part of COLLABORATIONS On Vacation.
Installation view of Artist Fair as part of COLLABORATIONS On Vacation.

“People today believe that art is something we can introduce very late in our lives when we have money to buy it. But that is not the purpose of art. It is the art world’s own fault that people are not taking art seriously. You need to live your whole life with art and understand what art can do to you at any stage of your life. That is why we have curated a program with a very broad appeal,” explains Thomas.

During the period of the Art Fair, the entrance will be free of charge, and besides the curated art experiences, visitors can enjoy their time at the center’s restaurant serving lunch to bring to the atrium.

Installation view of Cathrine Raben Davidsen's Cosmic Mind.
Installation view of Cathrine Raben Davidsen’s Cosmic Mind.

Bringing novel artworks and fresh concepts to Denmark

Thomas’ parents, Jacob and Patricia Asbæk established Galerie Asbæk in 1975, an art gallery that played a significant role in the Danish art scene. In the late ’80s, the couple was looking for a recreational place by the Mediterranean Sea and eventually came to Mallorca in 1989 when they purchased the land that currently hosts CCA. Former Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs Uffe Ellemann-Jensen also played a very important part in establishing the place when he came to Mallorca to visit the Asbæk family. Together with Jacob and Patricia Asbæk, they established the principles of CCA.

“Back then, it was considered a place where conceptual artists could exhibit and a platform for storytelling to unfold stories on a larger scale,” Thomas recalls the early days of CCA. “What is more, it was – and still is – quite troublesome to transport artworks to and from the island of Mallorca. So it made sense to establish an art residency program where artists could create in situ exhibitions to be shown both in the Kunsthalle and also the commercial gallery section of the art center.”

“It makes more sense today than it did back then in the late ’90s. You needed to be curious and ask questions when you got here. The majority did not get it back in Denmark, so in the beginning, it was very hard to get the Danish art world involved in shaping the place. The residencies all started off with young German conceptual artists who came for the first years because in Germany there was already an established tradition of artist residencies.”

“We feel that Denmark still lives in a vacuum. And it is not only the local art scene but Denmark in general. We started to believe the fairy tale that we have been telling ourselves. The tale that we are living in a perfect country. So we kept protecting ourselves, which made us less curious than we used to be. We are very self-satisfied and believe that what we do is always correct since we are so open-minded. But in fact, we are not. We are a country that every day, more and more, keeps closing up.”

“Right now, we are curating an exhibition for the Rudolph Tegners Museum called Heroic Bodies. We are using the museum as a platform to bring ambitious international contemporary artists that create works at CCA. This way, we are bringing artists to the Danish audience that they would not normally see, not even at Louisiana.”

Art residencies at CCA in Mallorca

Besides its vast exhibition spaces and the presentation of international contemporary art, CCA is also home to an artist-in-residence program with four studios, offering residency to artists free of charge for a period of 3 to 6 weeks.

“Art is not something you do exclusively when you are young, when you are single, when you just had a kid, or when you are 50 years old. Artists connect with CCA and come to Mallorca in different stages of their lives,” Thomas says.

“It all started in the late ’90s when some young, brilliant German artists came down to Mallorca and worked here. These artists worked with conceptual artistic languages, and you needed to be curious and ask questions when you got here. Today, we keep welcoming artists applying with unique, more conceptual, and complex programs. Artists who apply today are early on in their careers. They are looking for inspiration or working on their artistic language. We believe in the importance of art residencies in the career of artists as they can be a place where we can discuss current events or different issues on mutual ground, on a democratic level, through art.”

When asking about the curatorial process, Thomas points to their efforts to keep the balance between novelty and constancy. “We also invite artists to come down here to realize their projects. When Tania and I are looking for artists to join the residency, we also aim to find ambitious names whose art can be a catalyst for stories we believe are important to tell.”

“It is amazing to see artists using the studio facilities so differently. Nobody is forced to BBQ together, talk to each other, or swim together. But at the end of the day, artists are very curious people and often rely on each other to develop new ideas. And new ideas happen when four studios with different artists lie next to each other.”

Charlie Alston working at CCA in June 2022 as part of the art center's artist in residence program.
Charlie Alston working at CCA in June 2022 as part of the art center’s artist in residence program.

Los Angeles-based artist Charlie Alston worked in Studio Azul during the month of June. “Charlie was always on the move and used the residency very actively in order to absorb the life of the island. He had never been to Europe before, so he took everything in while he was in residency. He traveled around the island, got impressions, made friends, and then came back and worked like crazy during the night hours. Then, in the morning, he went off again to explore.”

At the same time, but in another studio, New Jersey-based artist Danielle McKinney was working on new paintings. “She is an artist who is much more cautious and meticulous about her creative process. For her, being here is more of an inner journey. She is more deliberate as well as spiritual about her process.”

This summer’s must-see art experiences in Mallorca

COLLABORATIONS On Vacation brings established names and young talents close to all who visit the island of Mallorca between July 8 and August 13 in 2022. Expect neither a gallery nor a museum to a traditional extent, but more of a collection of curated art experiences that resonate with a wide audience. You’ll find art from Berlin’s hip art galleries, mystic landscapes from the verge of the unreal and the concrete as well as the only artist fair in Mallorca.

Relevant sources to learn more

Read more about the ongoing exhibitions at CCA here.
Check out COLLABORATIONS’ page on Artland

Keep reading on Artland Magazine
Art Exhibitions to See Around the World in Summer 2022

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