Spain | 2015
Enrique Juncosa (Palma de Mallorca, 1961) is a writer and curator based in Spain. He has published seven collections of poetry: Amanecer zulú(1986), Pastoral con cebras(1990), Libro del océano(1991), Peces de colores(1996), Las espirales naranja(2002), Bahía de las banderas(2007) and La destrucción del invierno(2013). He is also the author of a book of short stories: Los hedonistas(2014) and a forthcoming novel, El mundo rutilante(2016). Juncos has also written many essays on contemporary art. Most of them have been collected in three different volumes: Miquel Barceló o el sentimiento del tiempo(2004), Las adicciones(2006) and published in English, The Irish Years (2013). He was also the editor of Writers on Howard Hodgkin(2006) and co-editor of The Moderns: The Arts in Ireland from 1900s to the 1970s(2010).
Juncosa was Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin from 2003 to 2011, and before that he was Deputy Director of the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid and also of Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno in Valencia, Spain. He has also curated exhibitions, among several other venues for the Whitechapel Art Gallery and Tate Britain, both in London; The Hamburguer Banff, Berlin; MAXXI, Rome; The Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon; MACBA, Barcelona or the Spanish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
When I am working, solitude is a must for me. I also like to go somewhere which is especial, to endure this solitude well, having decided a time frame to concentrate solely on a particular project. Santa Maddalena is a real haven for writers, and in my case, it offers all these things I need or like. The location, in the heart of Tuscany, is breathtakingly beautiful, and the area, not only Florence nearby, is full, as everybody knows, of extraordinary works of art, which allows one to have occasional and inspirational breaks. The solitude in Santa Maddalena is also especial. It happens during most of the day, allowing you to work, but at lunch and dinner times, one knows that there is going to be interesting conversation and the possibility of unwinding and relax, meeting Beatrice, the charismatic and generous host who makes everything possible, and the others writers in residency at the same time. When one is writing is good to know somehow, that others are doing the same all around. Santa Maddalena is also a legendary place in the world of Literature, as it was the house of Gregor von Rezzori, whose studio is kept as it was and its presence perfectly felt. I first knew about the place reading Bruce Chatwin, who was a major figure for my generation, and a frequent guest to the house. Other writes whose work I greatly admire, like Colm Tóibìn, Edmund White or Michael Cunningham, have also been here before, making the whole thing a real experience. I also work in the field of Contemporary Art, and in the house, Beatrice run Galeria del Ariete in Milan which was a major gallery of its time, one can enjoy many artworks which are hanging on its walls, from Tàpies to Manzoni and Pistoletto.
I went to Santa Maddalena with the intention to finish a novel which I had quite advanced, and that I had started two years and a half ago, but only been able to work on it intermittently. It took me a while to re-enter the frame of mind I had when I started this book, which was in a farm in Patagonia, and another reason to think in Chatwin, but I did. I managed to finish the book, titled Paradise Garage, during my stay there, which is I guess the best thing I can say about the place.
I was staying in a room downstairs in the main house. The decoration was more Turkish than Italian, having a certain seductive exoticism. The room opened onto a bamboo grove, which with the Turkish theme, favoured again, at least for me, the workings of fantasy and imagination.
Everything else in the house: the staff; the food; the neighbours; the walks in the forests spotting deer and listening to the nightingales; the other writes whose work I had not read at the time but have discovered since; and buying a Russian Futurist painting in the flea-market of Arezzo with Beatrice, was all equally great. Memories which I keep mixed with images of works by Piero de la Francesca, Fra Angelico, Gozzoli, Michelangelo and so many others and of cities visited during this time: Pisa, San Gimignano, Lucca, Siena… and even Rome to see close friends. I had a great time and feel privileged about it. Many thanks.