Toni Salom / Interview with the painter and sculptor

MC How was the lockdown on the island for you?

TS I didn’t expect it at all, because I didn’t watch the news, I never watch TV. The first day I didn’t believe it. I went to the airport to pick up a friend and on the highway I saw the state of alarm signs. My friend who had just arrived from the US told me, everyone is going crazy, and at that moment I said, okay, this is really happening, it’s true, we can’t move.
I think there are two sides to the lockdown, one good and one bad. The good part is that most people are not used to being by themselves. So everyone has been able to do a little more thinking. As for people who are creative, it has given us time to go in new directions, without being distracted by our usual day to day routine. It was incredible to spend 24 hours a day working, in your studio, focused on your art. That part was very, very cool. On the other hand, I felt locked up, that I was being forced to do that. I have a very clear idea of ​​the world, that we are all going to get screwed by the rapid pace of life we ​​lead, and the pandemic confirmed that to me. We cannot go on like this. But, unfortunately, I see that people have not grasped this because when they get out of quarantine they go back business as usual. Nobody’s said we that this new pace is beneficial, taking everything more slowly, much more calmly.
As a matter of principle, I don’t like the government telling me what to do, how to behave. , Much of my work is focused on that, on social repression, and I saw that a lot of the lockdown was like social repression. Like in an authoritarian state. That felt really bad. And then there was the madness of not knowing when they were going to let you out again.
Personally I tried to be very calm and focus on work. One thing I realized was that normally when you are working on your projects, you are doing them for something, an exhibition, or someone, but at the at the moment when everything stopped, when everything was canceled, I told myself: now you have to work without goals, not one. That set me taking new directions I otherwise wouldn’t have, but very nice, because it led to different series and projects and that satisfied me. I was free, I experimented a lot with new things. I made some chairs in marés (*Mallorcan sand stone) in the shape of the crescent moon, although while I was making them I didn’t even know that they were going to be chairs!
I started painting, I thought, wow, I’m going to paint something super big because I have a lot of time. Then I ran out of paint and it would take two weeks to arrive. It was like, okay, you have to work on other things, some pieces out of cement, very cool, very funny, I had to experiment with things I had.
You realize how spoiled you are because I usually have everything to work with. On top of that I got nervous and in a bad mood because I had halfway finished a painting and I wanted to finish it right away and I couldn’t. I called a friend in Portocolom but he said he didn’t have any blue, and I thought, okay, I’m screwed by not having one color, because I need all three primary colors to work.
What if the material ran out forever, what would I do? Well, carve stones from the field, I guess.

MC Did your perception of Mallorca and/or your attitude toward its relations with Spain and Europe change?
TS No. My perception has not changed. I am worried about globalization, though. About cultures becoming increasingly uniform. What I thought was very cool was how fast nature was regenerating, and I was surprised how quickly the earth was purifying itself. In just one month. But this shouldnt be the way we clean up the planet. It should be done because we want to, not out of fear of a disease.

MC When and how did you carry out the work that you are planning to exhibit in the 2021 ¨AMICS DE LA TERRA¨ exhibition?

TS Part of it I did during quarantine, a diptych called ¨YING YANG IN A WORLD UPSIDE DOWN¨ which, at that moment, I think we all felt. The world we knew had stopped and we didn’t know if, when or how it would start again. That was the piece I was working on when I ran out of paint. But I finally got some in the last week and I was finally able to finish it.
The other pieces are sculptures I made just after the lockdown. I immediately went on a surfing trip to the north of Spain on the border to France. I took some gouges along, tools for carving wood. I found these pieces of driftwood on beaches and started sculpting them.

MC What do the works for the exhibition mean to you?

TS “Ying Yang in a World Upside Down” shows two people united, in a world where we are supposed to remain apart. Defying social pressure and gravity, so to speak. And the sculptures are like gifts from the sea. It means a lot to me to use things that I find. I kind of think they have more significant worth. If you use them instead of buying canvases, paint and the whole art supplies store, you are doing something that is totally unique, something that cannot be duplicated, especially in this day and age when everyone is always spending money on new things.

MC What does Mallorca mean to you, aside from the pandemic?
TS Mallorca to me is my connection with the land itself. I don’t think most people see it that way but that’s how I feel about it. The closeness to the earth under my feet on this island. I wanted to leave the island until I was 25, which is when I decided that this was the place I wanted to live. When I was 20 I started searching for somewhere I wanted to live. My last trip was to California, and it was there that I realized that it was here on the island all along. I lived in a van and began thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I decided that I wanted to dedicate myself to art one hundred percent, although it was very difficult to get into the art world. That’s what I’m doing now and that’s all I want. I want to do what moves me. I want to create.
Back then I didn’t have a home in Mallorca and it was quite difficult to focus. But then my grandparents gave me this house, an old windmill built in 1519. This was the greatest change in my life. I live in the countryside. The city no longer means anything to me, I don’t need anything from it, I have everything here. The idea of ​​new life, the connection with the earth, of being able to plant on your own land, is wonderful. You don’t need anything from anyone. It’s perfect. Mallorca, to me, is that tranquility. It’s a relatively inexpensive place to live. The weather is good and I’m able to work with a sense of calm, not having to worry about simply surviving all the time. In cities there is more going on in the art scene and more opportunities but you have to fight all the time to survive, and I am not willing to fight over food. My idea of ​​life is to live doing what I want to do. I have something to say to people I think, and now is the time to do it. I want to tell people to find their connection with the land again. Life is not a contest. We don’t have to step over each other. That we connect with each other and with nature is what matters because connecting with nature is connecting with your inner self, because we are all one.

Do you have a favorite spot on the island?
The Serra de Tramuntana is magical to me, I don’t know exactly what it is but the energy there is very powerful energy. If I had to choose a place to live for the rest of my life it would be somewhere between Deià and Sóller. And the sea is where I feel the best, where everything else no longer matters. When I think I want to escape from something, I think of diving into the sea, because you have to be very aware of what you are doing there. Getting nervous can be very dangerous. Surfing or diving is when I feel best. Everything else disappears. You are in the now, in the moment.