Evita Medina & Max Cantrell

How did Max Cantrell, from South Africa, come to live in Spain?

I came to Spain principally because I was promised the sun shone every day, the food was great and most importantly there are “siestas”! I moved to Mallorca in 2000 (the same year as Evita!) and I knew from the very start it was my paradise. I decided to try and make art my sole source of income and for many years I was able to make a pretty comfortable living. Then the bottom dropped out of the art market and I had to start combining teaching, which I had done in Madrid, with my art. Fifteen years after coming to Mallorca I met my Eve in my paradise.

When did Max and Evita’s paths cross?

We met in October 2015. I had a gallery and she was (is) a very talented painter who caught my eye, both professionally and personally. As soon as we met there was immediate chemistry between the two of us and from that day on we both knew our paths would intertwine and become one as they have.

Evita, your phrase “sólo cositas bonitas en mi cabecita” (only beautiful things in my head) really matches your form of art. Your creations exude beauty, sensuality and a masterful technique. Where do you find the muses for your pieces?

I have always felt that my inspiration is born from what happens in each and every day of mine. It is what surrounds me that creates in me the need to tell it in the best way I know, painting in oil those things which I could never ever express in words. Even during moments I´m going through might be sad or life is determined to put “ not very pretty things” in front of my eyes, I have developed inside of me the ability to transform them into “very pretty things”. That’s why this sentence goes around my head almost like a mantra… finally that’s what I paint.

Max, you are a versatile artist with an extensive international career. Which art currents do you find most inspiring and which artists would you point to as artistic references?

Thanks for the compliment! I´m not really into following artistic trends or currents. I believe more in the individual work of an artist and individual expression which transcends movements and “isms”. I´m constantly inspired by great technique, sacrifice and discipline which I believe to be the universal keys to success. Great artists? How about Miguelangelo, Diego Velazquez, Botticelli, Dali, Roger van der Weyden, Gustav Klimt, Banksy…for starters!

Have you guys ever collaborated on an artwork?

Not yet, but we´ve had quite a few shows together. Although our styles are dissimilar, when we hang our works together in a gallery, harmony is created amongst our creations only comparable to when Evita and I feel when we ´re together. So, although we haven’t yet collaborated on one piece, we always have the feeling there is something magical which unites our works.

Evita and Max, do you remember your first artwork? What did it represent?

E. The first painting I ever painted, which can be considered completely my own because it wasn’t an exercise to develop my technique, interestingly enough I still have and I will keep it forever. Without me knowing it it was the beginning of a constant throughout all of my work… she was a solitary girl, sitting on a beautiful chair with a mask that didn’t allow her to see the people around her who were laughing, talking and dancing, and brushing their elegant clothes against the dance floor. That mask without eyes which she chose because what was inside her was much more interesting, her own music played at the rhythm she decided and the sounds of laughter came from deep within her… only a butterfly on her knee keeps her in contact with reality; a touch of colour which displays the most beautiful. This painting is called “ The Dance” and, as I said before is the first of many which tell the stories in a pretty way, whatever the reality, it is my privilege to be able to express it and share it as I wish.

M. I was 7 years old and my parents, both artists and bohemians, decided to travel Europe in an ambulance my father had converted into a caravan. After almost a year, we settled in Mijas, south of Spain and lived in a small farm house for 6 months. During this time I painted a lot. Especially my cats. One day, a wealthy French gentleman who lived nearby came to see my parents work to buy some art. My mother dressed me in my best clothes and brushed my wild hair. The gentleman stayed for a frugal dinner and finally bought two of my parents’ paintings and as he was leaving his eyes fell on my painting of a cat. “How much is that?” he asked smiling at me with a wink. I stuttered…looked at my parents for help and they said “You can have it for free.” I was heart-fallen. I was expecting at least some sweets in return. After he left, my parents praised my painting - apparently I was a hero! Thanks to it, the gentleman had invited us for dinner the next day!!! When we entered his house the following day, he said “ Max, come with me!” I took his hand, my parents following and we entered his living-room. There on the wall, was my simple painting of my cat, hanging between an original Picasso and a Miró! (I also got some sweets in the end!!).

In what projects are you guys immersed at the moment?

E. At the moment I am completing some commissions, art works which bring me enormous satisfaction, not only because it allows me to express without restrictions what I feel and express them with ease, but also because they are destined to belong to people who are in complete harmony with them. I am also working on a new collection of oil paintings which I intend to exhibit next year, although technically I’ll continue along the lines which characterize my work, with soft brush-stroke and coats of paint which are hardly noticeable, I´ll show a side which until now has been unknown in my work. Perhaps it will be the colours, the motifs, the protagonists… Who knows? Only my ladies know…

M. I´m also busy on a few commissions, but I have a project in mind which is to have a combined show with Evita (but don´t tell her!). Seriously, we don’t know when or where, but it will happen! Things happen quite fast in our worlds and you never know when a project is going to present itself, and when it does it’s usually a mad dash to get the exhibition together. That’s the fun! It certainly gets the adrenaline going. I´m also doing a lot of writing, mostly fiction and it’s an enthralling experience to paint ideas on paper with words.

Where would we find this couple of artists when not creating in their studios?

It’s going to be hard to find us! Ha-ha! We disappear like quicksilver into our private world, “far from the madding crowd”. We live in paradise. Paradise means Mallorca for us and it’s full of the most beautiful hidden corners which are crying out to be visited and that’s what we try to do when we have time off. After 18 years here, this island still surprises us in so many ways - it’s a microcosm of the world with almost everything imaginable, but on a tiny scale. Simple things attract us: a glass of wine together; a simple homemade dinner with friends and family…and once in a very very blue moon, we venture out into the light of day to be seen in the opening of other artists’ shows; an event which might be fun or a sufficiently engaging exhibition. Then there’s opera, travelling, movies, music, but above all, we enjoy each and every “now” moment in our simple everyday life at home.

What do you expect from your Artzine adventure?

First of all, we’re especially excited with this new experience because Artzine is a Spanish online gallery. We both think that it’s really fantastic to be involved in your project right from the start, because we’re sure that along the long road that awaits us, we’ll have a wonderful artistic experience with you guys and personally we’ll grow and hopefully achieve great objectives which we can’t even imagine at the moment.

And now… Evita, tell us an aroma you love. Max, if you had to choose a flavour, it would be…

E. Jasmine! Without doubt… when I smell its aroma I find myself, without hardly realizing it, in my grandmother’s house, in Málaga - city of jasmine bouquets ( biznagas) which emanate a sweet and heady fragrance. It’s amazingly comforting because it makes me feel cosy inside for a while; that little girl who had no idea of the wonderful adventures that still awaited her.

M. A blackberry tea with grated ginger in it, sweetened with honey. Or maybe a glass of turpentine with some Winsor & Newton black ivory?? No! Just joking. I’ll stick with the tea, thanks.