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Francisco Sebastián Nicolau, One of the Most Remarkable Representatives of Realism, Exhibits at IVAM
The work that the artist Sebastián Nicolau (Valencia, 1956) has produced in recent years articulates a stimulating multidisciplinary discourse structured around the fundamental questions that have enlivened his art.
VALENCIA.- The exhibition that the IVAM is presenting features 74 works by Francisco Sebastián Nicolau, known basically as a painter and hailed as one of the most remarkable representatives of realism, with many exhibitions in Spain and beyond its borders to his credit. This show is a clear demonstration of his excellent qualities in painting – his natural medium – and sculpture.

The exhibition is arranged in a sequence of spaces that establish a dialogue between different series and reveal relationships between two-dimensional and three-dimensional works. Items from each of the series are combined in varying proportions to offer an open exploration of multidirectional readings in which one can appreciate the conceptual constants that provide the foundation for all his work, through the use of different techniques and materials.

The catalogue published to accompany the exhibition contains illustrations of the works exhibited and includes a chronology of the artist together with essays by the director of the IVAM, Consuelo Císcar, the curator of the exhibition, Víctor Zarza, and Sebastián Nicolau himself.

The work that the artist Sebastián Nicolau (Valencia, 1956) has produced in recent years articulates a stimulating multidisciplinary discourse structured around the fundamental questions that have enlivened his art: the terms in which representation takes place (the elements that define it and the effective impact of its illusory nature) and the plastic possibilities of a spatial experience that swings between two and three dimensions, in both directions.

Despite their heterogeneous nature, the various pieces that appear in Workin'' (*) Workin' refers to the open nature and the work process of a music session in which the outcome depends on contributions that the session generates as it proceeds. A creative method in which process and tautology are combined to explore all the issues that interest him as an artist. Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet is the name of a legendary album recorded in 1956 by the famous trumpeter and composer, and it provides the title of this exhibition which, for Sebastián Nicolau, represents "perplexity, surprise at the places to which our interest leads us, the desire to find something else, silence ever present as a response to questioning, respect for the light of the whiteness of the canvas or paper or the space while it is still without whatever is going to occupy it". And also "a work process and attitude, one of attention to what arises from an action, a way of using events, an approach to what we might sum up as the attempt to achieve rather than the thing that is achieved, rotations around what we do from the centre of ourselves, producing variations from a central point, making movements identical to the preceding ones but revealing a different landscape with each rotation". (the title of one of the series and also of the exhibition) provide a discourse that is unitary and consistent but not closed. The diversity of their approach to certain subjects and problems is to be understood in terms of a series of variations. Sebastián Nicolau's tendency towards the constructive has found an appropriate model in industrial architecture for trying out compositional solutions in which a stimulating mesh of basic geometrical forms and succinct definition form the main structural argument of the works that make up the series Talleres (Workshops): landscapes reduced to two basic planes, the sky and groups of buildings.

From his experience in the workshops where he makes his sculptures, Sebastián Nicolau found another theme with which to explore the possibilities of pictorial representation, working with the folds of the thick sheets of oilcloth that serve to separate the different workplaces. This gave rise to the series that he has called Workin', in which he does not copy the appearance of specific folds but contrives to create their pictorial equivalent. To do this he does not set out from specific models but from a generic model, analyzing, assimilating and reconstructing their nature visually; by variations in the consistency and opacity of the paint he defines the volumes and structure of the work. An important point to bear in mind is that in these works the image of the oilcloth separator coincides physically with the surface of the support, so that we can see a double reading of these works, as still lifes or abstractions, for they can belong to both categories.

The exhibition shows how Sebastián Nicolau combines the main concerns that have always been present in his work: mimetic representation, a tendency towards constructive formations and a sensitivity for the tectonic, an interest in a perfectly structured compositional order, clarity in the definition of forms, and an exquisite treatment of the procedures employed.

* Workin' refers to the open nature and the work process of a music session in which the outcome depends on contributions that the session generates as it proceeds. A creative method in which process and tautology are combined to explore all the issues that interest him as an artist. Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet is the name of a legendary album recorded in 1956 by the famous trumpeter and composer, and it provides the title of this exhibition which, for Sebastián Nicolau, represents "perplexity, surprise at the places to which our interest leads us, the desire to find something else, silence ever present as a response to questioning, respect for the light of the whiteness of the canvas or paper or the space while it is still without whatever is going to occupy it". And also "a work process and attitude, one of attention to what arises from an action, a way of using events, an approach to what we might sum up as the attempt to achieve rather than the thing that is achieved, rotations around what we do from the centre of ourselves, producing variations from a central point, making movements identical to the preceding ones but revealing a different landscape with each rotation





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