Despite the threat of rain, tourists and residents on the beach of San Juan (Alicante) who have free mornings do not forgive a walk. On their way, they encounter a team of carpenters erecting a brightly colored wooden construction right on the edge of the arena. “Aesthetically, it is quite beautiful and original,” commented Luis Santos and Raquel Escolano, residents of the area. “The colors draw attention and the structure is reminiscent of the series of The Baywatch”, they continue. Virginia, another resident who takes the opportunity to exercise, agrees with the assessment. “I like it, it looks like Miami Beach.” They are not misguided. This is the second of the rescue posts that the artist from Alicante, Antonyo Marest, installed on the kilometer-long sandy area that for decades has established itself as a reference for national tourism.
The project was born in September 2020, in a meeting with the Alicante City Council. Marest was looking for a collaboration different from his usual work, muralism with which he has left his mark on four continents, from Burgos to Rabat, from Seoul to Miami, where he has a residence at the Pérez Art Museum of Contemporary Art (PAMM). “A mural would have been another one for the collection”, she points out, “I preferred to do something different for the city and for the Mediterranean”. The idea of the lifeguard posts caught on and in 2021 he presented his project, for which he claims to have “a collection of 16 different designs”. At the moment, San Juan is the destination of two of them.
The first was installed on the sand in the middle of last May, ready for the official inauguration. Later, Marest traveled to Ibiza, where he carried out a large-format work for the Sublimotion restaurant, the gastronomic proposal of chef Paco Roncero at the Hard Rock Hotel on the Balearic island. The second, erected in “14-hour days for the entire team”, had four days to finish, a schedule that has complicated the weather. “The rain doesn’t matter that much,” the artist explains, “but we are waiting for the wind to subside so we can move the structure with a crane to its final location on the sand.” Each booth weighs about 3,500 kilos.
Against the gray of the morning of the visit to the EL PAÍS project, the color palette that Marest uses in all his works stands out even more. He lists them like someone who recites the table of one. “Turquoise green, pink, yellow, coral red, navy blue, violet, black and white”. The same range of sources of inspiration for him, the art deco and the works of the artists who founded the Memphis Group in Milan in the eighties of the last century. “It is my personal seal, which makes me ultra recognizable”, he asserts. They are also the colors that cover the wooden structure of fir and pine with a floor area of 25 square meters and five meters high for the booths. “Except for the windows, which are made of aluminum, everything is made of wood treated against woodworms and with natural primers resistant to changes in temperature and the effect of the sea”, he emphasizes.
“I like it a lot, it will attract a lot of attention from young people,” predicts Hugo, who along with Miguel walks a brown Labrador retriever named Milo. And it will also explode on social networks, such as Instagram, where Marest has almost 40,000 followers. “It can be a great tourist attraction”, certifies Raquel Escolano. However, it was the bad weather that often blights vacations that encouraged the idea. A snowstorm in New York forced Marest to postpone a flight to the Big Apple and stay in Miami in 2015, the artist recalls. There, during a walk with his wife, he visited the famous salvage stations that appeared in the series starring David Hasselhoff that launched Pamela Anderson to stardom in the early nineties. He investigated and discovered that they constituted an icon of the neo-Mediterranean architectural movement, celebrated in the United States of a century ago. “I studied them and it seemed easy to replicate them,” says Marest, “and return them to their natural place, the Mediterranean, to revive what is ours.”