YANNY LEVKOFF SCULPTOR
Many will be familiar with the face of Yanny Levkoff. Not only has he been on the island for more than 35 years, he also appeared in the celebrated film about Ibiza ‘Hippies Forever’. In the making of this he was invited to America where he participated in over 50 hours of footage – resulting in another film about his life and work, entitled simply ‘Yanny Levkoff’. This film has just won the short film award at the Morelio Festival in Mexico.
Previously a teacher from New York he embarked on a major travel expedition over 40 years ago and never went back – or at least not to a ‘normal’ life.
Those who do not know him from the films may have seen him on the byroads and back roads as he hitches his way around the island. His lifts usually drop him at the end of a long track, unaware that once deposited he will walk a further 3 km, supplies on his back, before he is home.
Home is a cute, rambling finca, hidden amongst the hills, gazing down towards the sea. It has been an artist’s retreat for many years, even before he lived there. For 16 of the 17 years of his residence he has existed without electricity in true old Ibicenco style.
As I first made my way down the winding camino, I imagined his idealistic lifestyle – vegetarian, no car, living close to nature, growing his own food… After being greeted by a beaming man in his early seventies, I discovered that the reality was somewhat different. Yanny does live a simple life, and there is a considerable amount of ideology involved, but he also lives simply because for many years he has had to. He survives from his work as an artist and as many know this can be unpredictable. A true artist creates because they have to – and can spend weeks, months or even years on a piece which at the end of it may or may not be sold to someone who values the time and skill invested in it.
Last year a big commission gave him the chance to buy a few solar panels and a generator – and this has made a big difference to his life, adding many hours to his day. He grows some food, but is limited by lack of water – every drop he uses must be drawn from a well. Nevertheless his entrada is full of every kind of sprouting thing you can imagine and I am invited to sample juicy sunflower greens. He also grows lettuce and
spinach and eats whatever wild plants he can. Whilst I munch on the sunflower salad, he gives me a recipe for fried borage leaves. Lovely though this is, there is another subject of conversation and another reason for my visit… News has got around that Yanny has now finished his latest creation…
When I arrived at the finca it was the first thing I noticed… an incredible multi-dimensional sculpture, carved from a single piece of olive wood. The piece was breathtaking and beautiful forms appeared as it was rotated to stand at different angles. Yanny believes that he is one of the few sculptors in Europe to be working with such a large single piece of wood – so large in fact that after discovering it he never really considered working on it. But finally he was drawn back to the field where he first saw it 15 years ago, whilst out walking with his 6 year old son. He has worked on the piece every day for the last 18 months and since its recent completion is now considering suitable venues for exhibition.
Text: Helen Howard
Photos: Danny Barak
For further information, private viewings and exhibitions contact Yanny.
Tel. 649 97 86 15