Andalucia Revisited


Sean Hepburn Ferrer, son of actress Audrey Hepburn and actor/film director Mel Ferrer, is returning to Marbella, a place his parents loved and lived in, and he’s mounting four exhibitions of work by Italian artist Eugenio Pardini, who spent some time in Andalucia during the 60s. Society met up with Sean to talk about these exhibitions and why he has chosen Marbella.

Why have you chosen Marbella to hold this exhibition?

The first way to answer this question is to say that Eugenio Pardini spent a life painting in his beloved Versilia (on the coast between Viareggio and Forte De Marmi) and the only time he left it and painted abroad was when he came to Andalusia in the 60s. This is also the reason why the first exhibit of his work to ever be held outside of Italy, which I also curated, was in Granada a year ago.

Marbella has also played an important role in my life as it is the place where I spent my summers throughout my youth, in the house my parents’ built in the Marbella Club. It is a joy for me to sort of ‘come home’ (I can’t claim that about many places in the world) and bring the fruits of the labour of love in which I have already invested over 10 years of my life.

Why are there four different events ?

I find exhibits in dedicated spaces mostly static and dreary. If I had my perference, I would hang the art in streets, in cafes, in the markets or at bus stations;those places which are usually devoid of anything creative and where our minds tend to wander and daydream. The perfect state of mind for art to capture you and enchant you.

But, aware of the magnitude of Pardini’s collection, I knew that I had to count on the collaboration and support of a local gallery. I was offered the gallery of Marife Nuñez. Art Gallery is a beautiful new space located in the new zone of San Pedro, which is much more “metro” than downtown Marbella, and yet not as daunting and “unattainable” as Puerto Banús, and it’s from Art Gallery that we will manage all the commercial work of the different exhibitions.

I was then offered La Zagaleta in a context where the pieces could also be a part of everyday life. And finally, we rented a “raw space” to show some of the grand pieces in an upscale commercial mall space which is nevertheless unpretentious and a practical daily destination. But, in the end, everyone who offered space did so out of their instant liking of Eugenio’s work

Can you tell us something about how the exhibitions will be different - if they will be?

Ultimately, I don't believe that the expectations which are created when you have to get in your car and drive, to a ‘temple of the arts’, park and visit an exhibition is ultimately conductive to enjoying creation and artwork. When it hangs in your home, it brings you joy and satisfaction every time you look at it or walk by it - or you shouldn't own it, or at least hang it in your home. In that case you should keep it in Geneva’s 'Port Franc’. I believe in the spirit of making art an organic part of our lives, like literature, music and film, and this is what I am trying to achieve by having the art appear spontaneously in more than one place.

You have chosen the work of Eugenio Pardini for your opening exhibition - what do you admire about this Italian artist?

A little over 10 years ago, I came into contact with his family. Eugenio had already passed away, but his widow still lived and I fell in love with his work. It was fresh, the colours timeless and, although Eugenio had two Biennali in Venice in the late 40s (when ‘those were the days’) and three Quadriennali in Rome, it truly embodied a life's work free of the machination which often dominates the art industry. He painted and made a great living from it, selling his works at the same prices as Guttuso, Corpora and his peers. He was a true contemporary artist, active from the 1940s to his death early this century at the age of 93.

Why do you think his work will appeal to Marbella residents?

People who come to Marbella are mostly on holidays, both in terms of the place and a state of mind. They want simple foods, light and restful activities, the outdoors and a break from the 'unbearable heaviness of being' and the 'three ring circus'. There is nothing pretentious about Eugenio's work. It is like fresh fish; if it smells and tastes good, you eat it. No need for art experts or 'connoisseurs' to tell you what you feel, think or like.

Do you plan to bring other works from your collection to Marbella?

The collection is comprised of over 4,000 signed works. This is it; this is my one and only ‘collection'. But I may bring other 'know how' to Marbella in the future. After being the President of the Classic Cinema Film Festival Retroback in Granada for the past 10 years (the world's largest of its kind) I am considering holding talks about producing a yearly event in the low season (Jan / Feb) as we did for the Retroback Festival in Granada. I built it like a real business, with travel packages and sponsors and in its third year we had a 98.7% occupancy rate for Granada’s 14,000 hotel rooms over the two weekends of our 10-day festival. That is real. Like film production, for each tourism-generated Euro which is brought into a local economy it generates between a 3 to a 5x return in local currency activity.

How do you view the future potential for the Marbella art scene?

I will tell you after the exhibit is finished with some better measure of certainty but, so far, from what I can see with the naked eye, it's all about consumption and entertainment.

I visited the city hall's internet site to see what I would be up against during the month of September and, to my great delight, all I could find were repetitious ads about music talent at the local lounge, brunches and barbeques. So, after everyone has enjoyed all the good 'fare' the area has to offer, they might also enjoy a true art experience.

If you could curate an exhibition of any artist, or perhaps two or three together, who would you choose?

I am not an art expert. Nor do I want to be. Maybe this is why I bought Eugenio's life work (or 50% of it as the other half is owned by wealthy Italian gold and silk merchants). I am a producer and a showman with a business and a literary education. I have sold over a million books since I wrote my first one and have been responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars when I was in the film business, and have generated the same since I became involved with the world of IPs 25 years ago, after my mother passed away. I understand value and results. I believe in having 'skin in the game', not just imparting views and advice about building businesses and their relative risk managements. Some people buy Ferraris and Bentleys; I buy art and IPs, and am in the process of putting together a luxury fund in Luxembourg which will cross collateralize intellectual property rights with luxury food goods and wines. I like Spain. It is a basically an empty jar with enormous opportunity to offer quality of life and nutrition to Europe and the rest of the world, an issue which is rapidly becoming the cornerstone of our very survival.

Thank you Sean Hepburn Ferrer for taking the time to tell us all about this exciting new exhibition coming to Marbella.

Copyright 2016 Society Magazine, All Rights Reserved.