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Artists on Ibiza

Jussara de Oliveira Heberle

by José P Ribas



If there is one person who knows deeply and well the cultural and artistic evolution of the Pitiusas Islands in the past three decades, it is Gastão Heberle.

Gastão, as he is known by most of the Island’s residents, is a writer and a language and literature professor. Born in the South of Brazil in the middle of the 1940s, he has spent more then half his live on Eivissa.

He and his wife Jussara have known the Islands since the very early 1970s and in 1976 they established their house in Sant Josép, where they live and work most of the year, whenever they are not away on one of their frequent trips.

In 1979 he published his first book of tales and short histories about Eivissa, its people, culture and traditions. “Los trabajos y los dias” was written with his particular sense of humour and irony and also with his own metaphors and personal points of view. Jussara illustrated it with exquisite drawings.

The book became a success and the edition was soon sold out. He repeated the experience with a new book in 1983, “Boira” (Fog), also written following the same style and again illustrated by the same exquisite hands. This book was also a success, it’s been translated into German, and there have been several editions of it already. Gastão is always working on some new ideas involved with his literary career, so expect to see some of his new works soon.

Apart from his creative work as a writer, Gastão is probably far better known as an Art-gallery manager, as one of the best “Plastic Arts experts” and “merchant” of the Islands. It is a job he has been doing officially since 1978, when he opened the Gallery “Sargantana” (“Lizard” in Ibicenco) in the village of Sant Josép, just by the side of the church.

At the beginning, the gallery was exclusively dedicated to Jussara’s paintings: oil-paintings, water-colours, drawings and postcards (here we have to say that this gallery is quite small, the smallest in size on the Island, in contrast with the high artistic quality of its exhibitions). But soon, little by little, some of the best Ibicenco and resident artists started to exhibit in it, with exclusive selections of their material.

Gastão opened “Gallery Can Berri” in the little village of Sant Agustí, also by the side of its church. He spends his time between the two galleries, during the day in Sant José and from 8.30pm in Sant Agustí, where he is visited by a big number of artists, customers, art-lovers and friends.

At present there is a good collection of art-pieces in both of them. We can admire paintings by Jussara, also by V. Ferrer Guasch, Toni Pomar (Weekly Edition 063, Artists on Ibiza Fifteen, Saturday 11th May 2002), V. Boberman, Mario Stafforini (Weekly Edition 047 Artists on Ibiza Seven, Saturday 19th January 2002), Sara Nechamkin (Weekly Edition 065 Artists on Ibiza Sixteen, Saturday 25th May 2002), Adrian Rosa (Weekly Edition 055 Artists on Ibiza Eleven, Saturday 16th March 2002) and Vicent Calbet (Weekly Edition 045 Artists on Ibiza Six, Saturday 5th January 2002) among others. Also sculptures by Edilson Diniz, Toni Hormigo (Weekly Edition 035 Artists on Ibiza One, Saturday 27th October 2001) Pedro J Hormigo together with Julio Bauzá (Weekly Edition 041 Artists on Ibiza Four, Saturday 8th December 2001), Angelina Ribas and some other new discoveries.

Running his galleries, Gastão has survived year after year in this difficult business (these galleries are at present the ones being opened without interruptions, only closing for their trips in the winter season) with discretion, elegance and class, meeting the most relevant artists and interesting people, making friends from all over the World.

I bet if one day he decides to write a book about the experiences and the people that he met in his galleries, it will be a big success and a book that will become a classic, necessary to learn and understand the cultural and artistic modern history of Eivissa-Formentera.

But it is almost impossible to write about Gastão and his career as a writer and Art-merchant without speaking about his wife Jussara. Both together form a solid tandem, the ideal complement for a perfect team, two individual souls pedalling together through life in deep communion with the Art and the sensitivity.

Jussara de Oliveira was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Jussara means coco-nut-palm tree in the Indian language Tupi-Guarani from where she comes. She started painting when she was very young; encouraged by her parents who saw she had a passion for it. At the age of fifteen she already knew what she enjoyed best doing and what she wanted to do for her living. She studied for about two years at Art School in Brazil and later, with the money from a fellowship, she visited Moscow, where she lived for a few years, then France, Sweden, Germany, Portugal and Madrid, before Eivissa.

Jussara de Oliveira Heberle

Jussara and Gastão got married in 1969, or it could have been 1968. She doesn’t remember very well, because they married by papers, when Gastão was in Moscow and she was in Brazil.

Jussara keeps good memories of all those years living in different places. From Moscow she remembers with pleasant nostalgia the extraordinary ballet, the museums, and the colourful tulips of the Kremlin and Red Square in the summer... From Paris, when she was studying in the “Sorbona University”. While Gastão was passing his degrees to get his title as Language and Literature professor, she was also working in a perfume shop or as a baby sitter... So many memories from so many places...

And then they arrived in Eivissa, of which they had already heard a lot. They lived among young artists and advanced intellectual circles, first for two or three years as tourists. Then they couldn’t resist any longer the call of the magic of the Island. Like the singing of the mermaids to Ulysses, it tied them to Eivissa, hopefully for the rest of their life, though they are both very cosmopolitan and big travellers and they keep on with their international trips every winter.

They both soon rooted deeply into this Island, into its environment and culture, its people and landscapes, as we can see in Jussara’s paintings and Gastão’s tales. Since then, the life motive of Jussara’s paintings has been Eivissa, its landscapes, trees, nature and people, especially the “Dona Pagessa” (the local peasant women, dressed in ancestral costume). Nowadays, there’s a whole generation of young people who - when they see one of our “grannies” dressed up in our traditional costume - call: “Look! There’s a “Jussara!”.” So deep and real is the communion between her Art and our reality.

Of her paintings, the experts say: “They show us the interior Eivissa, transfigured in a poetical interpretation, full of grace, magic and love”.

“Her favourite subject is the local peasant woman, for its magic and mystery, for its sober elegance and for all that she means to the local culture”.

“We are not talking about the classical folklore picture, but the spirit, the real essence of Eivissa”.

Hopefully, we will be able to write again about Jussara and her new exhibition, on which task she is one hundred percent concentrated at the moment. Then, we will also show her very intensive and cosmopolitan curriculum.




All Painting by Jussara de Oliveira Heberle
A Selection of Black & White Postcards from the work of Jussara de Oliveira Heberle
Gastão Heberle and the front cover of the German Version of his book “Erzählungen aus Ibiza”
Jussara de Oliveira Heberle in front of one of her Paintings

All Pictures Courtesy of Gastão Heberle

Exhibitions for this Summer at the Gallery “Can Berri” in Sant Agustí, Eivissa

From the 6th to the 30th July: Paintings by Hagen Voss.

From the 2nd to the 30th August: Sculptures by Toni Hormigo.

From the 31st August to the 12th September: Paintings by Sarah Nechamkin.

From the 17th to the 30th September: Paintings by Jussara de Oliveira Heberle.

José P Ribas