Art in Essence: The Ernesto Ventós Foundation

Ernesto Ventós Omedes (1945 - 2020) was born in Barcelona on September 23, 1945, in a family dedicated to the manufacture of olfactory essences. In this context, and considering his deafness since childhood, Ernesto learns to understand the world through one of the most forgotten senses of our daily life: smell.



The origin

As an adult, Ernesto quickly grows up as a professional, becoming a great perfumer and entrepreneur, partly for his excellent training, but, above all, thanks to his great olfactory ability and genuine talent to understand the world through his nose.

“I was born amid smells and fragrance drums from my father's factory and learned to smell”
Ernesto Ventós Omedes

But beyond his professional career, Ernesto is a person of creative and restless spirit, characteristics that lead him to move immediately into the world of art, establishing relationships with artists and gallerists. He becomes an atypical art buyer, not simply selecting pieces that he likes at first sight, but looking for those that arouse some olfactory memory. He stands in front of the artworks, observes them and, if his nose is aroused, indicates: "esta pieza me huele" (this piece smells).

Ernesto Ventós Portrait


The collection is so special that, in a conversation held with Joan Brossa, the artist tells Ernesto: “I make visual poetry and you make visual smells (olor visual)”. Ernesto finds the idea so accurate that he decides colección olorVISUAL will be the name of his collection.

“My nose is evolving, perfecting and getting subtler. Like other collections, collectors sharpen their eyes, in my case the smell is sharpened.”
Ernesto Ventós Omedes

Ernesto's inclination for art grows over the years, and his restless spirit is not content with acquiring works of art. The perfumer is keen to explore his most creative aspect, and decides that it is time to do so through the design of his own works of art. 

This is how NASEVO is born (name derived from the word NAS - nose in catalan - and EVO, the acronym of his own name) and with it, an explosion of noses. Large noses, small noses, thousands of color noses, paper noses, wood noses, paint noses, mobile noses, light noses, body noses, changing noses... And even a nose made of a car!

NASEVO transforms objects and materials into noses, as these are the vehicle that allows us to grasp reality in the same way as he does: through smell. In the creation of each work, the artist no longer has to assign an olfactory note to each piece, but it is the creation itself that responds to NASEVO's olfactory chords in his mind.

“I am told I am a nose man”

Pomonas de rosas, 2006 / NASEVO / NASEVO Collection, Olfactory note: Floral (Geranium, rose, lilac, carnation, violet, honeysuckle, hyacinth


The legacy

The Ernesto Ventós Foundation is a project that was born in 2019 with the will to consolidate and continue the mission that Ernesto always had in mind: to teach to smell through art. However, the spirit of the Foundation was born much earlier.

In 1996, Ernesto Ventós unveiled colección olorVISUAL at the Palace of Virreina (Barcelona). This first exhibition, which is titled "essences", will be the precursor to various exercises in interpretation and exhibition of the collection in different territories of the Spanish state and abroad.

Later, NASEVO will follow the same path. Ernesto’s artworks will be presented in several exhibitions, in which the color explosion, the multifaceted character of the author, and the willingness to teach to smell are never missing.

Currently, the Foundation is in charge of ensuring the proper conservation of the two collections (colección olorVISUAL and NASEVO) in order to be able to continue the research, exhibition and dissemination actions that allow the society to draw on Ernesto's unique view of the art and the sense of smell.

TRASHSTONE Nº 85, 1994 / MUNDT, WILHELM / colección olorVISUAL, Olfactory note: Woody (patchouly, sandalwood, vetiver, cedar, iris, oak)


Learn to smell

"Learn to smell" was the leitmotiv of Ernesto Ventós, so building and obtaining a didactic about smell becomes one of the foundation's principal objectives.
That is why olfactory workshops are so important, because they are our basic tool for reminding society that we have the ability to smell and that, behind a smell, there can be much more than a feeling.

The Foundation not only offers educational exercises through its exhibition proposals, but also opens its doors to schools and schools, businesses (through workshops) and other cultural institutions.

At the Foundation we advocate that the inclusion of the olfactory perspective in any field is not only possible, but can bring added value to it, such as novelty, entertainment or even greater retention of learning, especially if we consider the retention power that smells in our memory.

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