Have you ever looked at a painting and thought about its creation? How long it took, what the artist was wearing, or where they were painting? Surely, a finished work of art is only part of the story? The other part – art in action – is what we’re about to see . . .
We’re a group of people (of six different nationalities) attending a private function at Bodega Macià Batle, in Santa Maria del Camí, where a well-known chef/artist is to paint a picture before our eyes. Simultaneously, his right-hand man – chef Gustavo Martín Moreno – will create 26 portions of the first dish of tonight’s four-course dinner: plated art, reflecting elements of the emerging painting. Wine, food and painting. Symbiosis.
The painter is Pepe Pintos. His audience comprises close family members and island-visiting friends of abcMallorca’s editor, Dr Helen Cummins, and her husband Georg. Also here: Macià Batle director Ramón Servalls and his wife, photographer Thomas Baar, and fellow journalist Andreas John.
Ramón sets the scene with a tour of the award-winning bodega, which annually produces 700,000 litres of wine. In the most romantic part – the cool cellars where the wine is aged (in oak barrels for 12-18 months, then bottles for a year) – one artist is already at work: Thomas is stretched out on the floor, with his Nikon. Click, click, click.
Art and wine are inextricably linked at Macià Batle – not just because producing exceptional wine is an art in itself. Each year, a renowned artist designs the label for their Reserva Privada tinto; the original artwork decorates the bodega.
Our tour ends at the spacious art-adorned function room, where a long table is set for dinner. In the room’s centre, 26 gleaming white plates cover a smaller table. A tall blank canvas leans against the wall, amid tubes of acrylic paint, pot of brushes, kitchen implements, two wine bottles, and wine glasses – one containing water.
Macià Batle wines is one of the most successful vineyards on Mallorca. We meet the director Ramón Servalls who helped transform a small family-run winery into a brand that has won more than 200 international prizes in 14 years.
[…] Macià Batle Wines
Pepe Pintos enters the room, wearing jeans, white chef’s jacket, sandals and a broad smile. He wriggles himself into a Persil-white boiler suit, checks he can reach the top of the canvas (he’s not very tall) and says he’s going to paint the process of wine-making.
His palette is a white plate (matching those awaiting Gustavo’s gastronomic art) – onto which he squeezes two shades of red paint. Using a large brush, he paints broad red strokes horizontally across the canvas top. Thomas, the photographer, is capturing the action. Art on art.
Wine and finger food are served. Several guests are seated to watch The Artist at Work. There’s a quiet buzz of conversation. Although my journalist’s curiosity is fizzing, I’m not going to ask for anyone’s views. I’ve never seen art “live” before and want to appreciate every moment. What self-confidence Pepe must have to work happily with an audience behind him!
Wine glasses now become paint receptacles. Pepe adds vertical strokes of undiluted and dribbling diluted red paint to the canvas. Now he’s squeezing paint directly onto the surface, spreading it with a palette knife. White paint goes on the right of the canvas. He picks up a clean wine glass, presses its rim into the thick paint on the plate and with deft stamping motions, applies red circles (clearly the grapes) to the picture.
Meanwhile, Gustavo – clad in chef’s gear – begins his art. Precise blobs of pimiento and beetroot purée (two shades of red) are squeezed onto each of the 26 plates, then swashed artistically across the porcelain with a knife blade.
At the canvas, Pepe is using the end of a wine bottle (the wine named 39º 39′ 06″ N 02º 46′ 22″ E – the geographical co-ordinates of the bodega) to apply more red to his picture. It’s a synergetic process: using wine glasses and bottles – wine-maker’s tools – to create a painting about wine-making. There’s an “oops” moment, when Pepe uses an artist’s brush to flick paint onto the canvas . . . and the wall. The creative process has a brief hiatus as Pepe wipes away the wayward paint.
Wine is art for Ramón Servalls Batle, a direct descendant of the founder of the Macià Batle Wine Cellar, who sells most of his 1 million bottle production in Mallorca. […] Macià Batle Wine Cellar
Thin black lines become the outline of bottles, symbolising “the community” – Pepe’s description of a bodega. Black arches reflect the architecture of Macià Batle’s premises. There’s purple, and turquoise too. A few feet away, Gustavo neatly applies capers and slivers of shaved parmesan to each plate. Some guests approach with cameras, creating their own pieces of art.
Gustavo is poised with the beef. Is the painting nearly finished? Can I interrupt? Pepe and I crouch at the foot of the canvas: What’s he thinking while he paints? “Only about enjoying what I’m doing. I love to paint – to create something unique. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s unique. Paintings are like people: good or bad, ugly or beautiful, small or large – all are unique.”
Slices of red beef are placed on the plates. There’s a brief consultation between the two men. Discussing the painting? Or is Pepe checking that they’ve brought the paint remover, for his now multi-coloured hands?
A final flourish: Gustavo adds red wine reduction; Pepe finger-paints a horizontal red stripe halfway down the canvas, then signs his name in black paint in the bottom right-hand corner. There’s applause for both Pepe and Gustavo, who between them have created 27 works of art – although only one is destined for posterity.
Pepe explains elements of his painting, which expresses that wine is a pleasure, and the work of Ramón and the bodega is for all to enjoy. “Wine is like a religious experience and a bodega, like a temple. Heaven is on earth: paradise is here if we are able to appreciate it.”
I’ve really appreciated seeing art in action: a painting’s “back story”. And now, twenty-six gastronomic works of art await our further appreciation . . .
June 15 – October 14: Monday to Friday 09.00 – 19.00 hrs; closed Saturday
October 15 – June 14: Monday to Friday 09.00 – 18.30 hrs; Saturday 09.30 – 13.00 hrs.