The principles of Martín Chirino

Under the curatorship of the theorist and art critic Alfonso de la Torre, the pieces from his series Reinas Negras (1952-1953), “early abstract sculptures, conceived with carved volcanic stone or wrought iron, in the new Spanish art that appeared”, They spin this exhibition project that revives the preliminary artistic environment of Chirino’s career in the context of the 50s of the 20th century.

His first steps in the art of bending iron are represented by the exhibition of more than a hundred pieces that include sculptures, drawings, paintings, photographs and documents related to his first works, which are also recontextualized with the exhibition of original works his teachers, such as Ángel Ferrant and Julio González, as well as famous artists who cemented his plastic imaginary, such as Paul Klee or Picasso.

“This exhibition is the attempt to rebuild a time that had faded,” Alfonso de la Torre said yesterday during the opening of the exhibition, which was also attended by Jesús Castaño, director of the Martín Chirino Foundation; and Marta Chirino, president of the Foundation and daughter of the artist.

The motor of the show is incardinated within the framework of a larger project, promoted by the artist himself in 2016, and which consists of the publication of an iconographic encyclopedia, with a total of 16 volumes, dedicated to research, critical analysis and cataloging of the whole of the work of the «fabled blacksmith».

Thus, both the exhibition and the monographic Reinas Negras, signed by De la Torre and which summarizes his inaugural artistic stage, crystallize the result of a series of conversations between Chirino and De la Torre, from 2016 until the death of the artist, although this The latter continued this path alone, imbued with the beautiful reflection of the French philosopher and writer Jean Grenier, who crowns the preamble to the publication in his dedication: what could be earned.

Regarding the exhibition, De la Torre emphasizes that “this exhibition talks about his creation but, above all, about his thought.” Starting with the Black Queens, which make up the ground work that Paul Auster coined to refer to «the take-off runway», from which Chirino stood out to arrive at «the poetic and useless tools where, even, one can glimpse the emergence of some spirals. “For Chirino, the Black Queens occupied a central place, because he assured that these pieces were the essential point of his work, the origin of everything,” emphasizes De la Torre. “Eduardo Westerdahl called them ‘The game’ and Manolo Millares wrote in his memoirs that Martín made by far the best sculpture in wood and stone of all those he made at that time,” he adds.


Around the crown jewels parade the multiple literary, geographical, plastic and material initiatory imprints in Chirino’s work, from his essential readings -This is how I speak Zaratrusta, by Friedrich Nietzsche; and The Spectator I and II, by Ortega y Gasset-; clippings from the magazines La Rosa de los Vientos or Gaceta de Arte or unpublished photographs that immortalize historical episodes in the narrative of universal art in the islands, such as the trip aboard the mythical ocean liner Alcántara (1955), together with Manolo Millares, Alejandro Reino and Manuel Padorno. In addition, the tour is surrounded by a musical score composed expressly by Tomás Marco, Jon Bandrés and Joan Gómez Alemany, which evokes the sounds of Blandy Brothers, the shipyards in which he worked with his father, and which emulates the sounds of hammers, saws and blows from metals.

In its artistic aspect, the itinerary of the exhibition includes sculptures, drawings and sketches by Chirino, which dialogue with the works The Constructed Shore (1930), by Paul Klee, and Table with Offering (1933); two bronzes by Pablo Picasso and Julio González; a work by Manuel Millares; two pieces by Apel-les Fenosa; and sculptures and drawings by Ángel Ferrant; as well as ceramics, masks and sculptures of African origin that signed their imprint on the artist’s spirals. The local payroll includes works by Óscar Domínguez, Apel les Fenosa, Plácido Fleitas, Eduardo Gregorio, Manolo Millares and Eduardo Westerdahl, among others, since the artistic ensemble comes from the funds of the Foundation itself, as well as works donated for more than 20 national collections.

However, Martín Chirino: Reinas Negras was born from a co-production between the Martín Chirino Art and Thought Foundation with the Antonio Antonio Pérez de Cuenca Foundation, and will travel to the latter after its closure at the Castillo de la Luz, on September 19 . This is also the “beginning” of the most detailed and complete encyclopedic research on the career of the sculptor from Gran Canaria, which will be completed by another 17 monographs by critics and specialists in his work, to cover the whole of the life and work of the master of the forging.


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