Joan Pere Catalá Roig
At his studio and home in Portol, Mallorca, Spain.
Up a windy road in the small village of Portol, in rural Mallorca, we find Joan’s home, built more than a century ago as a traditional Majorcan country house, surrounded by beautiful land and almond trees. The adjacent studio is an inspiring space, which radiates light, due to its wall textures, ceiling and floors. The room has ochre and sandy hues, giving one the impression of walking right into one of Joan’s creations itself, seemingly occurring from combining earth and fire.
Joan is a ceramist in Portol, a village where dozens of businesses are dedicated to producing traditional pottery. However, he has taken a completely different approach to his craft, and has developed an understanding of life itself as an artistic endeavor. His career has drawn directly from two main sources of inspiration: first, his mother, herself an established ceramist of many years, and second, the art of Raku, a ceramic technique from Japan.
His methods are unconventional and unique. Therefore his pieces are truly magical, and the results he achieves are clearly on another level. He takes his craft so seriously - while simultaneously making the outcome seem unimportant - a paradox makes one want to sit with him and talk about his production methods for hours. Joan is an unpretentious dedicated artist, whose life, work and existence collectively represent one main objective: to create in the purest way ceramic pieces that make him proud.
Outside his studio, he has built a Japanese oven to bake his works only during the colder months. This is a wood burning oven, actually a large brick chamber. The work is so intricate, that after placing his pieces carefully inside, he closes the aperture with bricks, and seals them with a concrete mix. He then maintains the flames and temperatures at a constant level for two full days, during which time he doesn’t sleep, and is completely focused on achieving the very precise strength required for each of his ceramic pieces.
Such extreme devotion, his attitude and dedication are so absolute and unpretentious. Everything that surrounds this enchanting character is somehow magical. The studio full of textures and inspiration, the house and all of the life it contains with Joan's partner Dulce, and their small baby, appears to be pure, untainted joy. And every corner of their home is an interpretation of the simple existence they have chosen to live. As we sit at their table for lunch, their hospitality warms my heart even more. And I cannot feel more admiration for him and his craft.