The director of the IVAM
, Mrs. Consuelo Ciscar; the artist, José Manuel Ciria, and the curator of the exhibition, Kara Van der Weg, inaugurated the exhibition 'Ciria. States of opposition (2001-20011) which will run until on 8 January. The exhibition, sponsored by Telefónica, gathers 28 paintings and 82 drawings series between abstraction and figuration, with features ranging from the spontaneous gesture to the precise rigor of the grid. The artist works between Madrid and New York in the decade from 2001 to 2011.
Jose Manuel Ciria: States of Opposition, 2001-2011
Over the last decade, the paintings of Jose Manuel Ciria have moved between abstraction and figuration, their markings ranging from animated gesture to the precise rigor of the grid. Concurrent with substantial changes in both style and subject has been the geographical shift of the artist's studio and residence from Madrid to New York in 2005. Powerful, intense, and constantly evolving, Ciria's painting reveals an artist who responds to his environment using a pictorial language that is based in pure emotion. While his approaches to painting may vary, there is a singularity of focus that emerges and which is revealed in Ciria's comment that "we are always making the same painting." Through more than two dozen canvases and a new video installation, Jose Manuel Ciria: States of Opposition, 2001-2011 highlights the artist's seemingly paradoxical strategies that together convey a distinct and potent message.
The exhibition opens with Ciria's bodegón homage to the death of contemporary painting. Vanitas (Levántate y anda) (2001) pictures the iconic images of Marcel Duchamp's Fountain (1917) and Joseph Kosuth's textual work alongside Ciria's own paintings. Collaged together as if displayed on a letter rack, such artifacts suggest an immobilized art history and convey Ciria's desire to break from the past. Works such as Fragmentación de nubes I-V (2002) or the Mask of the Glance series (1993-2005) reveal the artist's experimentation with abstract mark making and repetition as a means of discovering unconscious possibilities. The artist's Rorschach series of heads (2000-2005), introduce a single figurative element as a means of conveying unmitigated emotion while working within the prescribed format of the canvas.
Upon relocating to the United States in 2005, Ciria began to create his Post-Suprematist series, inspired by Russian painter Kazimir Malevich. Pretextos I-III (2006) shows how Ciria, like his Russian predecessor, chose to return to the figurea style he had first employed in the 1980sas a means of embarking upon a new direction in his work. Despite this shift, gestural strokes and an underlying grid recall his previous work and create a dynamic formal tension that is inherent to Ciria's practice.
The artist's LaGuardia Place series expands his flirtation with figuration through both image and text, with works such as Perro colgado (2006) or Tres bailarinas (2007) invoking subjects through their titles as much as their semi-abstract forms. The artist returned to pure abstraction for his Triptych for the Spanish Tradition (2006), a tribute that recalls the American artist Robert Motherwell's Elegies to the Spanish people. Hovering between figuration and abstraction are several large-scale works executed by Ciria in 2009. The spherical forms of El Castillo de los Pirineos duplicado (2009), for instance, recall the heads executed by the artist earlier in the decade.
The head has risen to prominence in the artist's recent work, evidenced by several canvases on view, as well as a new video installation that serves as a poignant memorial to the artist's father (My Father's Jacket ). A geometric element as well as a recollection of the human figure, the head provides Ciria with a consistent form within which the artist may make limitless experiments with color, line, and painterly gesture. It is, ultimately, this variance which is the foundation of Ciria's work, and it drives his artistic explorations still further.