On these gray days in Paris, one of the coldest and wettest periods in the last 100 years, a flicker of purple and a flash of white in a window caught my eye as I trod through the rain to the bus. It was a bougainvillea vine with a gnarled trunk and a froth of pink, purple and magenta on top, set against a wall of white washed brick in some sunny Mediterranean place, reminiscent, I thought, of the Cyclades, where I longed to be at that moment absorbing some sun. I looked again, it was not a photograph or painting, that trunk was real, and so were the bricks. If anything what I was looking at resembled a piece of a stage set, though not quite to scale. Intrigued I stepped in through the door, and found myself wandering the alleys of Ibiza recreated by the enchanted eye of Ibiza artist Marta Torres.
The extraordinary works on show at the Galerie Charlotte Norberg at 74 Rue Charlot, in the Marais recreate walls, doorways, windows, beaches and olive groves of Ibiza and surroundings in a mixed media of collage, sculpture, and painting. Natural objects like tree trunks, sea shells, stones, earth, pebbles, sand, sticks, pieces of wood, and even eggs are glued on supports to recreate seascapes, landscapes, and street scenes. The island life in the old town is recreated in dozens of domestic details. In white brick walls (made of some plastic like substance) real doors, windows, shutters, and gates are inserted, made of peeling wood, with rusted hinges, padlocks, and chicken wire, opening to reveal a sea view or a distant island. Frayed old electric wiring is strung over doorways outside of which are placed baskets of firewood or a dish of eggs. Beneath windows flap dingy pieces of laundry, fixed with wooden clothespins, moved by a slight breeze, caught in the folds as they ripple.
That house, said the person at the gallery who showed us around, really exists! I have seen it, he insisted. All these places really exist in Ibiza.
Stage sets, magic boxes, dollhouses, Advent calendars, Mexican crèche scenes enclosed in covered niches opening to reveal figures or surprises are all akin to these works carefully constructed to create a true to life tactile impression in crumbs of red earth , hard, knotty tree trunks, wooden window and door fixtures that splinter at your touch, shedding scraps of colored paint, old iron hinges, nails, and locks covered with the fine dusting of rust. She also gives us the visual impact of strong sunlight glancing off white walls and petals, leaves, seashells, and of course, the blue and turquoise surface of the sea. She gives her viewers the illusion of being elsewhere.