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In this volume, Juan Calzadilla provides an overview of Venezuelan painter Mateo Manaure’s artistic development. After an initial reflection on the poetic as a constant in Manaure’s art, he analyzes the different stages of his work: his early years at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas (Caracas, 1941), his stay in Paris and the founding of the Los Disidentes group there in 1950, his contact with geometric abstraction, and finally his Informalist works, landscapes, sobremontaje paintings, and the Suelos de mi tierra series. Calzadilla addresses as well specific problems—such as the newfound concern with identity in Latin American art of the fifties—and Manaure’s relationship to graphic design and to the notion of incorporating art into architecture.


Juan Calzadilla (b. 1931) provides an overview of the work of Venezuelan painter Mateo Manaure (b. 1926)—an artist in which Calzadilla had enduring interest. In 1967, the year this text was published, Manaure presented his Suelos de mi tierra series—a return to the language of pure painting that synthesizes his earlier pursuits in an Informalist and gestural language rid of any figuration and reminiscent of interior atmospheres. It is at this moment of synthesis that Calzadilla assesses Manaure’s earlier production; he provides context not only for Manaure, but also for major events, individuals, and institutions, and explains what they meant for art in Venezuela. Calzadilla argues that the poetic facet of Manaure’s work is a constant while also delving into the creative processes the artist used at each phase of his production—phases characterized by crisis, self-criticism, disorientation, and even experiments that were never exhibited. In Calzadilla’s view, the counterpart to historic events is an inner dynamic that drives creation. Other factors—Manaure’s work in graphic design and contribution to the founding of exhibition venues like Galería Cuatro Muros—are essential as well to a comprehensive understanding of his art. Calzadilla reflects on the various tendencies the artist has explored, particularly his connection to Surrealism. He discusses the tensions at play in an artist inclined, on the one hand, to the poetic and the lyrical and, on the other, to the rational and impersonal characteristic of geometric abstraction—a duality that leads to both surrealist and Informalist experimentation. The text is also a critical retrospective of geometric abstraction almost two decades after the height of that movement, one that takes into account both its contributions and its failings, particularly in relation to the incorporation of art into architecture.


[For other texts on Manaure’s work, see in the ICAA digital archive Víctor Guédez’s “La creación estético-visual en Mateo Manaure” (doc. no. 1155531); Roberto Guevara’s texts “Manaure y la inmensa noche” (doc. no. 1156411), “Manaure: columnas en tierras movedizas” (doc. no. 1155515), and “Manaure y las Cuvisiones” (doc. no. 1156459); Perán Erminy’s “Las imágenes poéticas de Manaure” (doc. no. 1156523); Alfredo Boulton’s “Mateo Manaure en el Museo de Bellas Artes” (doc. no. 1157497); Gastón Diehl’s “Mateo Manaure” (doc. no. 1156491); Teresa Alvarenga’s article “Mi obra de hoy: Mateo Manaure llega a los 50 años” (doc. no. 1156427); Pedro Lhaya’s article “Mateo Manaure o la autenticidad pictórica americana” (doc. no. 1156443); Alejo Carpentier’s article “Letra y Solfa: arte abstracto” (doc. no. 1097108); other texts by Calzadilla entitled “Interacción de mitos” (doc. no. 1156811), and “Sobremontajes de Manaure” (doc. no. 1156507); as well as by Manaure himself, “La decisión de un artista” (doc. no. 1156475), and “La escuela de artes plásticas de frente y de perfil” (doc. no. 813569)].

Rigel García
Fundación Mercantil, Caracas, Venezuela
Reproduced with permission of Juan Calzadilla, Caracas, Venezuela