"Javier Calvo. Geometry and fashion": his works are images for the memory that transmit profound nostalgia, combined with the pleasure of painting. Franco Fontana: a wide-ranging retrospective of his work, following historical and thematic criteria that will allow the visitor to chart his work. "Robert Morris. Drawing as thinking": the entire body of his drawings from 1955 to the present and works never before exhibited. "Jose' Manuel. States of opposition (2001-2011)": paintings between abstraction and figuration.
Sep 05 - Nov 13, 2011
Javier Calvo. Geometry and fashion
Javier Calvo has been painting for five decades, since the 1960s, intensifying his pictorial register. At first he worked with a figuration close to Expressionism, and later he turned towards a geometry that allowed him to synthesise his imaginary with the figurative dimension. Expressiveness, Neo-Figuration and Constructivism were far from dogmatic periods, because the decisive thing for this Valencian artist was not so much to “militate” in aesthetic schools as to give free rein to his feelings on the support marked out by the painting. In the early sixties he was interested in painters such as Rouault, Picasso, Chagal and Kandinsky, but also in figures such as Aubrey Beardsley and William Morris. He succeeded in combining a geometrical tendency with a very productive gesturalism, especially in his landscapes. With his usual lucidity, Aguilera Cerni noted that Javier Calvo’s works present models of rationalised behaviour: “Seeking the materialisation of something as impalpable as the pure concept of beauty, he suggests a path of positively corrective intervention in a world where irrationality is thriving and invasive. This excellent young painter seems to tell us that the ferment of artisticity can also be the essence of a human value.” Javier Calvo was associated with Antes del arte and he took part in the important group exhibition Forma y medida en el arte español actual (in the rooms of the Dirección General de Exposiciones, Madrid, 1977), which also included artists such as Alfaro, Amador, Caruncho, Cruz Novillo, José María Iglesias, Labra, Michavila, Rubio Camín, Gerardo Rueda and Sempere. The experience of Constructivism enabled him to develop a sense of order and symmetry, and he painted several works that had points of contact with Yturralde’s “impossible figures”.
Calvo clearly did not wish to remain trapped in geometrical forms and he needed to introduce references to emotional places. The stylistic quality of the landscape that he has developed, with origins in Romanticism, touches on truly original ideas. The decisive feature is his obsession with capturing the force and intensity of natural phenomena, but what he wants most of all is to retain the vital presence of painting. In the Malvarrosa series (1977–79), Javier Calvo attempts a poetic recovery of childhood, using a new kind of figuration and achieving a humanisation of his language when compared to his previous abstract vocabulary. These works are images for the memory that transmit profound nostalgia, combined – as always – with the pleasure of painting. His retrospective emotions are counterbalanced by a certain tone of serenity.
The series on glamour and fashion, a field for which Javier Calvo has a tremendous weakness, is undoubtedly the one that has enabled him to offer his most mature syncretic ideas. Javier Calvo’s relationship with the “empire of fashion” is wide-ranging, in his practice as an artist and as a teacher. One of the first and most important examples is the Glamourosas series that he presented at La Gallera in 1995. “The way in which he makes clothes the main feature,” as Mara Calabuig says, “without ties or obligations, yet keeping well away from a merely documentary temptation, is a great artistic revelation in this unusual exhibition. Javier Calvo deliberately erases faces and ignores anatomies, disclosing fashion in its full force, its constructive quality, which he underlines by achieving unexpected effects of mobile architecture that have complete autonomy and a penetrating power of suggestion.” His discoveries of texture, composition and gesture have expanded from the time of the Glamourosas series to the paintings that he is presenting at the IVAM. He has expanded his reflection on the pose, with all the sense of theatricality that it entails, situated somewhere between stillness and excess, between delicacy and gentleness and striking solemnity. His paintings render a meticulous tribute to the great photographers and designers who devoted their imagination to this world of material and folds, beautiful bodies and fascinating presences. Fashion, uniting the ephemeral and the eternal, the very pulse of modernity, reappears in the museum to seduce us in its subtlest way.
Sep 06 - Nov 06, 2011
Franco Fontana was born in Modena in 1933, and in the course of the last fifty years he has pursued a wide-ranging international career, presenting numerous exhibitions and publications all over the world. This show at the IVAM is a wide-ranging retrospective of his work, following historical and thematic criteria that will allow the visitor to chart his work.
Franco Fontana sets out from a conception of photography as a creative activity in which the relationship with nature or reality is accompanied by an intense poetic projection. He made this clear in an interview some years ago: “I think photography is not a study of positive reality but a search for an ideal truth full of suggestion, mystery and fantasy. To take a photograph is to possess, it is an act in which knowledge and profound possession are acquired. Photography should not reproduce the visible; it should make the invisible visible.”
These are the principles that he has followed in producing the very varied work that we now see in this exhibition at the IVAM. It ranges from the studies of historical and architectural subjects that he made in the 1960s and ’70s, including the famous photo of Prague and pictures of Modena and Venice, to his explorations of rural landscape, interpreted with a new eye, which were very soon recognised as fundamental works of the photography of the time. His series on Basilicata, Apulia and the desert of Erfoud are possibly the most significant examples.
Then there is a long sequence of city scenes in which he concentrates on recording signs and traces of humanity. Streets, shadows and road surfaces form a sequence in which Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York are settings that Fontana explores with a new kind of attention. One might say there is an American light that illuminates all these records of the 1980s and ’90s. People and places with a strongly cinematic imprint come to life and go about their business in an interplay of light and shade.
Colour plays a fundamental part. In his startling Polaroid pictures, his sequences of rural landscapes, his photographs featuring the sea and the most recent pictures in which the setting is Valencia, Fontana gives his work a poetic intensity that brings out the emotion and magic in every situation, transforming what he does into a search for the invisible, the unrepeatable moment that exists in every work of art.
Sep 08 - Jan 08, 2012
Robert Morris. Drawing as thinking
This is the first exhibition in Spain of the work of Robert Morris, who has exhibited widely throughout Europe and the United States. The exhibition is also the first to consider the entire body of his drawings from 1955 to the present and features works never before exhibited. Robert Morris, born in 1931 in Kansas City, Missouri, is among the most influential contemporary artists. His career has encompassed performance, painting, sculpture, conceptual and minimal art, earthworks and large-scale installations. This exhibition defines Morris’s drawings as an autonomous body of work that is both a medium of expression as well as a means to think through personal and philosophical problems in a form of auto-investigation. In this way, it constitutes a narrative of the artist’s career and thought.
Using drawings as studies for paintings and sculpture, diagrams, as well as documents of physical processes, Morris redefines their role by exploring new media and techniques. His monumental drawings which enlarge the image from the page to the mural are a distinctive innovation in contemporary art which refers back to antiquity and the Renaissance. The drawings are enriched by Morris’s references to archaeology and philosophy as well as to old masters like Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci and modern masters like Cézanne and Pollock. Among the works exhibited for the first time are the drawings based on Goya, the artist who is foremost in Morris’s mind as he examines the disasters and follies of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Drawing for Morris became the principle means to solve aesthetic problems that have preoccupied him since his decision to stop painting in 1958 – the year ARTnews named him the best young painter in the United States. Morris began drawing as a child and has continued without interruption throughout his life. In drawing, he found the way finally to express his painterly gifts without compromising with either academicism or facile illustration of his continuing political engagement, as exemplified in the final series of Blind Time drawings inspired by Guantanamo Bay torture scenes.
In drawing, Morris explores new ground, especially with regard to representational imagery – barred from painting as academic – and an architectural scale heretofore unknown in drawing. The intimate and private nature of drawing also permits him a degree of personal expression absent from his three-dimensional work.
Sep 13 - Nov 06, 2011
Ciria. States of opposition. (2001-2011)
Throughout the last decade, José Manuel Ciria’s paintings have hovered between abstraction and figuration; his lines go from energetic gestures to the precise rigour of reticulation. The substantial changes both in his style and his themes ran parallel to the geographic shift of the artist’s studio and residence from Madrid to New York in 2005. Striking, intense and in constant evolution, Ciria’s painting reveals an artist who responds to his environment by using a pictorial language based on pure emotion. Although his pictorial proposals vary, the approach is always singular as we can see from Ciria’s remark when he affirms that “we are always making the same painting”. After careful selection among over one hundred works, this exhibition emphasises the apparently paradoxical strategies used by the artist which, taken as a whole, convey a clear and powerful message.
The exhibition begins with a still life by Ciria in tribute to the death of contemporary painting. Vanitas (Levántate y anda (Vanitas [Rise up and Walk], 2001) includes the iconic images of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917) and the textual works by Joseph Kosuth alongside Ciria’s own paintings. These artefacts, assembled and arranged as though in a letter file, suggest the idea of an immobilised history of art and transmit Ciria’s wish to break away from the past. Works like Fragmentación de nubes I-V (Fragmentation of Clouds I-V, 2002) or the series La mascara de la mirada (The Mask of the Gaze, 1993-2005) denote the artist’s experimentation with the creation of abstract motifs and repetition as a means of discovering the possibilities of the unconscious. The series of heads entitled Rorschach presents a single figurative element as a means of conveying absolute emotion despite the spatial limitations imposed by the format of the canvas.
After moving to the United States in 2005, Ciria began to create the series Post-Suprematista (Post-Suprematist), inspired on the Russian painter Kazimir Malevich. Pretextos I-III (Pretexts I-III, 2006) shows how Ciria, like his Russian predecessor, chose to return to figuration – a style he used for the first time in the eighties – as a way to turn his work in a new direction. In spite of this change, the gestural strokes and the underlying grid are reminiscent of his earlier works and create a dynamic formal tension that is inherent to Ciria’s practice.
The artist’s series La Guardia Place goes one step further in his flirtation with figuration through both the image and the text, with pieces like Perro colgado (Hanged Dog, 2006) or Tres bailarinas (Three Dancers, 2007) evoking the themes through their titles as much as through their semi-abstract forms. The artist returned to pure abstraction for his Tríptico para la tradición española (Triptych for Spanish Tradition, 2006), a tribute to the Spanish people that reminds us of Elegies, a work by the American artist Robert Motherwell. Half-way between figuration and abstraction, Ciria made several large-format pieces in 2009. The spherical forms of El Castillo de los Pirineos duplicado (The Castle of the Pyrenees Duplicated, 2009), for example, resemble the heads executed by the artist at the beginning of the decade.
The head has taken on importance in the artist’s recent work. Either as a geometric element or as a reminder of the human body, the head provides Ciria with a constant form with which the artist can make infinite experiments with colour, line and pictorial gesture. After all, it is on this variation that Ciria bases his work and that gives more leeway to his artistic explorations.
Image: Franco Fontana, Venice, Los Angeles, 1990
Ivam Department of Communication (+34) 96 3867679 or send an e-mail to email@example.com
IVAM, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern
Calle de Guillem de Castro, 118 - 46003 Valencia
SUMMER OPENING HOURS 2011 AUGUST & SEPTEMBER
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