top of page

Art dialogues in a new/old Igeldo space
By Mitxel Ezquiaga, November 14, 2020

Cy Schnabel settles in Donostia and converts his father’s studio into a space for contemporary painting, including a work by Alejandro Garmendia. 

It is a small space, a rectangle bathed in light, but with a special magic. The Villa Magdalena de Igeldo studio where the artist Julian Schnabel painted during his stays in San Sebastian is from now on “a private art room, not a gallery” where Cy Schnabel, 27, the artist’s son, continues his career as a curator. 

“I was looking for a special place for my project, with personality, I looked at various locations and in the end I realized that the best place was at home”, explains Cy Schnabel. “It is a space that looks like a work of art in itself, with this moss on the walls, the old stove, a certain ramshackle air ... It invites us to dialogue with the works exhibited here, and responds to the spirit with which I want to work”. 

Cy was born in New York, but spent long periods of time here with his parents, the painter, sculptor and filmmaker Julian Schnabel and the Donostiarra model, actress and designer Olatz López Garmendia. “San Sebastián is also my home. The city and this town inspire me, and some time ago I decided to leave New York and settle in Donostia to consolidate my work in art”. 

He confesses that he also paints and writes, but like his older brother, with whom he worked for a time, he prefers the job of curator. He has already curated some exhibitions in Mexico and a couple of years ago he worked with Fernando Golvano in the assembly of the exhibition in the Kubo room dedicated to his uncle Alejandro Garmendia, who passed away in 2017. 

“It is not a gallery, but a private meeting space that can be accessed by appointment”, says the young curator. 

Precisely a large painting by ‘Sander’ Garmendia, as his friends called him, is part of the first selection of works exhibited in Villa Magdalena. There are just a dozen paintings, but large, which goes well with the power of the place. “The environment has so much personality that it can only accommodate paintings with great force, such as those chosen here.” Works by Jorge Galindo, Felicidad Moreno and Matías Sánchez complete this exhibition, entitled ‘Algunas tendencias en la pintura española ahora”. 

The owner of the space remarks that “it is not a gallery, but a private space.” Those interested can visit it by appointment, via email or mobile phones +19173556437 and 659867034. 

“The exhibition is not intended to define a specific movement, but rather to reflect a selection of personal narratives by four artists that address questions about abstraction, figuration, what to paint and how to do it,” explains Cy Schnabel. “Each of them has their own answer about what could be considered as current painting.” 

“Sander”'s gaze

This curator insists on the idea of “dialogue” between the works on display and “between the various identities that mediate the contemporary landscape of Spanish painting.” And there, the painting by Alejandro Garmendia (1959- 2017), a dark-hued look at an empty room that seems to have been painted to be presented in this melancholic space in Igeldo, gains special strength. “It is from 2004 and it represents a very significant stage for my uncle, who was always so interested in landscape and architecture.” 

Expressionism also marks the work of Jorge Galindo (Madrid, 1965), another of the artists exhibited with ‘Cruzado de Oriente’, an oil on canvas painted this year. From Felicidad Moreno (Madrid, 1960) he shows another great painting “that reflects her way of seeing art, as something cosmic and microscopic at the same time, because it brings together the infinitely small with the infinitely large.” Some small circular paintings made by Moreno with acrylic and enamel on canvas can also be seen. 

“I thought about locations and finally realized that I had the best one at home, this such ‘organic’ place, full of moss and life” 

The quartet of artists is completed with Matías Sánchez (Tübingen, 1972) and his “dark version of history and everyday life.” ‘Aquelarre’, from 2014, and ‘Mummy’, from 2017, are the works present in Villa Magdalena. 

A “difficult” moment 

This inaugural exhibition continues until the 27th of this month. Then others will come, although Cy Schnabel wants to go “slowly” in his work and ponder his next proposals well. He confesses that it is not easy to start a project like this in a world today shaken by the restrictions of the pandemic, but he also points out that Donostia is right now a good place to work on art “with alternatives like the one I want to offer, something other than the conventional galleries”. 

In Villa Magdalena, next to the Igeldo funicular square, awaits this old space that seems new, an old little house attached to the whole of the villa, a ’rectangle’ that was a two-story residence that Julian Schnabel converted into one with high ceilings to create his paintings. 

General information: 

The space: Villa Magdalena, on Paseo del Faro de Igeldo, open to the public by appointment only, at cyschnabel@ or by phone 659867034. 

The artists: Jorge Galindo, Alejandro Garmendia, Felicidad Moreno and Matías Sánchez make up the first group. 

The curator: Cy Schnabel is 27 years old, he was born in New York and now lives in Donostia. 

“San Sebastián is a city that gives me energy” 

Cy Schnabel has inherited the traveling life from his parents. The city of his father Julian (New York) and that of his mother Olatz (Donostia) are his two main geographical references. ”I have lived mainly in New York, although many of the best memories of my life are associated with San Sebastián, where we spent long periods of time, and specifically in this great house, Villa Magdalena.” Cy Schnabel says that at this moment ”I choose to live in Donostia because it is a calmer and more welcoming city, and it gives me a special energy to work and launch new projects.”

Prensa | El arte dialoga en un nuevo/viejo espacio de Igeldo | Villa Magdalena

The space, Julian Schnabel’s old studio, is small in size but with a strong personality. / Lobo Altuna

bottom of page