Pin It
Oriol Maspons Ibiza
Photography Oriol Maspons

In pictures: a time capsule of sensual, sun-drenched Ibizan hedonism

A new book brings together erotic pictures from the island’s archives, capturing its halcyon decades of uninhibited style, freedom, clubbing and nudity

Sometimes (quite often), it feels like everything was better before. Before what exactly, I’m not sure… there’s just a hazy but persistent sense that then was better than now. Maybe it’s the disorientating affect of modernity, the unprecedented speed and pace of technological development that generates this haunting, amorphous sense of free-floating nostalgia. Or maybe these days are truly awful.

If anything is likely to make us all long for a recent past we didn’t participate in, it’s Oriol Maspons’  pictures of Ibiza. Brought together in a dreamy new book (published by IDEA), the renowned Spanish photographer’s portraits of Ibizan culture from the mid-50s until the end of the 80s will make you yearn like you’ve never yearned before. Famed for its bohemian past as well as its reputation as a clubbing Mecca, the island was, for many decades, an idyllic enclave for non-conformists, hippies, hedonists and celebrities alike. Oriol Maspons Ibiza capture the spirit of these halcyon days and the many characters who flocked to Ibiza for its promise of unadulterated beauty and freedom.

Emma Salahi, founder of Agony and Ecstasy in Ibiza and co-editor of the book, describes Maspons’ archive as “an amazing love affair between Oriol, his subjects and Ibiza”. From the beach to the dance floor, the pictures evoke heat, sweat, lust, the hum of cicadas, the scent of Ambre Soleil, and the sensation of clear horizons and vast possibilities. The revellers seem uninhibited and, on the occasions they are wearing clothes, they appear self-styled in inventive, experimental outfits.

Maspons’ son Alex, whose foreword in the books allows us a poignant insight into his father’s work and the history of the island, tells us, “It seems people enjoyed without fear of being prejudged, in a liberal environment, with freedom and without offending. People are enjoying life with absolute naturalness. No one seems to be worried about being singled out, and no one seems to be offended by breaking a social norm.”

The pictures seem to depict a more permissive attitude towards nudity when “being naked frolicking on the beach” was commonplace. “Now, nudists are few and far between. When you spot a nudist in Salinas nowadays – which, back in the '80s was the nudist beach – you can’t help but blush and think it’s so rebellious,” explains Salahi. While Maspons’ nudes are sensual, they’re also permeated by a sense of irreverence. Bodies are presented as not only erotic but fun. A naked woman poses behind a sign delineating the nudist and regular section of the beach, a young man with his friends in their 80s co-ordinated clubbing boiler suits and bolero jackets exposes his tanned chest and sticks out his tongue and, and lounging semi-naked sunbathers on the beach, a person is dress inexplicably as the Pink Panther. “I still to this day ask people if they know who this dressed up Pink Panther was,” Salahi tells us. “He’s made several appearances throughout Oriol’s archive in lots of different places. We know it’s a man because he’s hailing down a car holding his Panther head under his arm. It’s very funny.”

These sun-drenched scenes, viewed here and now, are undercut by a sense of loss that’s makes them more than just beautiful photographs. They are precious artefacts documenting a very particular and revered moment in time. They raise complicated questions about what we’ve gained and what we may have lost. Alex Maspons tells Dazed, “Ibiza, nowadays, has lost most of its attractiveness. It still has the climate, the location and good restaurants. What else? Nothing compares to the old times. In the 80s, there was a constant comparison between Ibiza and Marbella: Ibiza was authentic and Marbella superficial; Marbella was the right place for rich people who wanted exposure. Ibiza was the opposite. Today, I feel that Ibiza has been taken over by all the people who would’ve been drawn to Marbella in the 80s.”

Considering on the wider implications of the book, he writes, ”Oriol Maspons Ibiza is a reflection of evolution and involution. It can make us reflect on whether we are more or less free today that we were 50 years ago, and on what we have lost along the way.” As a final question, I ask him what he thinks we can learn from looking at his father’s pictures of Ibiza in the decades gone-by but I’m not quite prepared for the devasting pathos and percipience of his repsonse: “Happiness isn’t forever. We were happy and we didn’t know it.”

Oriol Maspons Ibiza is published by IDEA and available to buy here from April 23, 2024. All photographs are available as exclusive limited edition prints from Agony and Ecstasy Ibiza Gallery, certified retailers of the Oriol Maspons Archive. 

Download the app 📱

  • Build your network and meet other creatives
  • Be the first to hear about exclusive Dazed events and offers
  • Share your work with our community
Join Dazed Club