Spain: Identity / Modernity

Imago Mundi

Contemporary Artists from Spain

Identity / Modernity
Modern art owes much to Spain. Its giants – Picasso, Dalí, Miró – left their mark on the history of the twentieth century. Art that reflects on art, the relationship between reality and ‘super-reality’, between nature and culture, the historical commitment of the artist in times of tragedy, experimentation with genres and techniques; these are just a few of the themes, reflections and inspirations of these famous artists who paved the way for the future, for a new vision of the world.

Chuma ArguiñÁRiz - Autumn In Pamplona (2014)

To fully understand this, it is sufficient to visit the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, one of the leading museums of modern and contemporary art in Europe, and take a look at ‘Guernica’.

MóNica SáNchez Robles - Nadando (2014)

In 1937, at the heart of the Civil War, the Republican government commissioned Picasso to create a large painting for the Spanish Pavilion at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. After an initial phase of work without inspiration, he decided to dedicate the mural to the tragedy of April 26th: the genocidal bombing laid waste to Guernica, the symbolic cultural center of the Basque people. Picasso worked tirelessly for about two months, and created a work where, amid the violence and horror of war, ancestral motifs re-emerged, such as the Minotaur and the horse that flank the woman devastated by the senseless loss of
her son.

Vari CaraméS - Doble-Man (2014)

Adela Aguilera - Fuera (2014)

The dark shades of Guernica, the tragic symbol of all conflicts in modern society, recall the Baroque heritage of Spanish culture, tenebrism, suffering and, at the same time, conflict. The tragedy of defeat, which is also Don Quixote of Cervantes’s indomitable and ironic invitation to continue to fight. “A knight-errant without love is like a tree without leaves or fruit, a body without a soul,” as the knight of La Mancha said to himself, for he who advances armed with passion (as Picasso himself reminds us) sooner or later finds what he is looking for. And even if he loses, he wins.

Alfonso Ascunce - SofíA (2014)

José Manuel Ciria - Lupinus Albus I (2014)

Today, from an inevitable reference to archaic and classical culture and its great masters, Spanish art is achieving something new, moving into the future.

Paula Bonet - Untitled (2014)

It engages the problem of the complex relationship between identity and modernity with passion and courage, bearing in mind that while the cultural isolation of the country after the Civil War did indeed separate the Spanish artists from modern orthodoxies, it equally favoured singularity, the search for original paths.

Manuel Antonio DomíNguez GóMez Villablanca - Solar Clocks (2014)

Isidro LóPez-Aparicio - Altas Relaciones 51 (2014)

Although the Spanish art market has been affected by the economic and social crisis, the artistic movement looks ahead with optimism, using the country’s many prestigious museums dedicated to modern and contemporary art as leverage, like the abovementioned Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the MACBA in Barcelona, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Espacio Andaluz de Creación Contemporánea in Córdoba, which opened in 2013 and has its roots in the echo of the Hispanic-Muslim culture of Andalusia.

José Del Palo - AproximacióN I (2014)

Carlos Aires - Spanish Art Today (2014)

So, painting and sculpture, but also new generations of artists from the world of video and television, able to contaminate genres and address political and social issues with a less direct and more ironic language. Photographic artists who record the poetry of everyday life but also propose a ‘reinvented’ reality thanks to new digital technologies. And internationally successful filmmakers like Almodóvar, who won an Oscar for best foreign language film in 1999 with ‘Todo sobre mi madre’ (All About My Mother).

Antonio Ledesma Machito - Untitled (2014)

FèLix Coll Carrera - “Fills De La UtopíA” Series (2014)

These artists are all evidence of a lively cultural environment and an awareness that art, like confidence and good will, can help Spain on its way to a challenging but achievable recovery from the severe crisis of 2011 (the serious problem of youth unemployment persists). In fact, the British weekly magazine The Economist devoted a confident article to the country in late June 2014, entitling it “Bouncing back. A surprisingly strong recovery, largely export-driven.”

Fernando Bayona - StultíFera Navis (2013)

The Imago Mundi collection – more than 200 works by established artists and emerging talents – records this wealth of styles, inspirations and trends. Some artists go beyond the two-dimensional boundary with almost sculptural works; others use different materials, collages and photographs. Many break the mold. As Helena Juncosa writes in her preface, “It is possible to see abstract, conceptual, figurative or hyper-realistic works. Very diverse and rich artistic discourse is present in form and content: internal conflicts, landscapes, the economic crisis, beauty, faces and eyes, and the art world...”

Salvador Cidrás - Untitled (2014)

I would add that we also see man and his existence, the relationship with the material and the landscape. The future and the perception of the future. The Spanish identity of tomorrow, told today. History and the histories of every day. In the words of Jaime Gil de Biedma, social poet and entrepreneur, “Que sea el hombre de su historia el dueño” (That man be the master of his own history).

Naia Del Castillo - Dafen II (2014)

Credits: Story

Fernando Francés

Almudena Fernández Gestión Cultural y Comunicación
Valentina Granzotto

Editorial coordination
Enrico Bossan

Luciano Benetton
Fernando Francés
Helena Juncosa

Editing and translation
Escarlata Bentley
Carlo Antonio Biscotto
Emma Cole
Pietro Valdatta

Special Thanks to
Our very special thanks to all artist and Cristina Valcuende, without whose participation and involvement would not be possible this collection

Art direction
Namyoung An

Marco Zanin

Marco Pavan

Juan Carlos Robles - Autorretrato y clavo

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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