IDEOLOGÍA EN REPOSO
6 October 2017
14 January 2018
The opportunity to enjoy Sáez’s works is not such a common occurrence. Indeed, Por las Ramas, the show opened last May at the Botanical Garden of Valencia was his first appearance since his exhibition at Sala Parpalló in 2008. And more to the point, the artist had not exhibited in his hometown of Castellón since 1996 with Colección Exclusiva, and 2003 with Ágora, in which he illustrated, through drawings and watercolours, his project for a mosaic for the Agora at Universitat Jaume I. Therein the great challenge and enormous satisfaction at exhibiting his works at Espai d’Art Contemporani de Castelló.
With the title Ideología en reposo (Ideology at Rest), the exhibition presents for the first time Reencarnaciones, a series started in 2012 in which the artist continues addressing portraiture as a social document and psychological landscape. Similarly, Sáez also presents a selection of suites produced over the last decade which have not been exhibited until now, such as Dios lo ve (2009), Dime la verdad (2010), No seas idiota (2011), El turista del espacio (2013-2014), Mon Oncle (2015) and Tomoe (1999-2015).
The new pieces Sáez has prepared expressly for this project are a core element of this exhibition, namely, Pentagrama, Ni contigo ni con él, Tramoya, Anatomía de la influencia, and Rear Window, all from 2016 and 2017. When viewed alongside the previous mentioned series, they create parallel walkthroughs that eventually converge for the first time at the EACC. Also on display are single pieces, like La noche de las cien cabezas, a homage to the book of the same title written by Ramón J. Sender years before going into exile, or works like Antonio or P.D., all of them made this year as personal tributes to people close to the artist.
Sáez has forged a polished and precise poetic around colour, figure, nature and the objectual world. He views drawing as the subtlest form of painting, leveraging it to undertake a sensuous and highly psychologically charged approach to genres including still life, landscape, portraiture and figure.
The works by Manuel Sáez on display could be viewed as pieces in a puzzle: they can be observed individually, but when the moment comes, they bring into focus a larger ensemble or a variable configuration. The exhibition may be read chapter by chapter or as a whole. However, the script will depend on how the beholder approaches the works, given that they are replete with external references and pose countless questions.
Born in 1961 in Castellón, Manuel Sáez lives and works in Valencia since 1984. He comes from a generation of visual artists that emerged in the 1980s and we could in fact date the beginning of his career to 1981, when, after spending a year in Barcelona, where his painting was closer to the prevailing expressionism of the time, his practice underwent a radical shift and started to focus on an investigation of the everyday image. Making use of a polished language and a restrained brushstroke, Sáez interprets elements from comics, the media and the History of Art, giving rise to such signature suites of work such as Caza or Immagini Registrate.
In 1989, after settling in Madrid, he painted his series Arquitecturas, which would be rewarded the following year with an Ícaro Prize. In 1990, he moved to the Spanish Academy in Rome where he started working on a series of self-portraits which he called Biografía no autorizada, soon followed by projects such as Dioptrías (1992), Aquiles (1993), and Prototipo (1994).
In 1995, Sáez spent some time in the Dominican Republic where he produced Trópicos, a series of works on paper portraying the Caribbean in still lifes, landscapes and figures. From 2000 onwards, and with an increasingly refined use of technique, he created series like Soulville (1999-2000), Sur (2001-2003), Mosaic (2001-2003), and Distrito C (2006). In 2003 he completed Guante Blanco, a mosaic measuring 1,884 square metres that occupies the central floor of the Agora at Universitat Jaume I.
His experience is endorsed by a long list of one-person and group shows throughout the Iberian Peninsula and abroad. Apart from a large number of shows in private galleries, Sáez has exhibited his works at Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid; IVAM and Centre del Carme, Valencia; and Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, among other stand-out venues. His works are also included in many public and private collections.
The publication contains reproductions of all the works on display plus previously unpublished essays by Pablo Llorca, María Sáez and Rosa Ulpiano, addressing Sáez’s practice from highly different perspectives. I wish to express my gratitude to the authors for their invaluable contribution to this project.
I also wish to acknowledge the whole of the team at EACC for their dedication, involvement and good work. My thanks also go to Antonio Ballesteros for his faultless professionalism and wise choices. And of course to Manuel, for his unconditional support at all times, his tireless dedication in the conception and materialisation of the project and his unflagging good humour.
Finally, I wish to thank the Department for Education, Research, Culture and Sports, under the auspices of Institut Valencià de Cultura, for their trust and assistance in this project. Without them, as individuals and institution, this “Ideología en reposo” would not have been possible.
Director of the EACC