Manuel Millares
Spain, 1926
Spain, 1972
Manolo Millares (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1926 – Madrid, 1976) was one of the Spanish artists of the 1950s and 1960s whose plastic language was most original. Apart from his well-known role in creating groups like LADAC (‘The Archers of Contemporary Art’) and, in particular, El Paso (formed in 1957), Millares meaningfully combined seemingly antithetical pictorial languages—Surrealism, Informalist poetics (very in vogue at the time) and an archaeological reinterpretation of the Guanche art of the Canary Islands—without disdaining any of them. From 1960 on, his paintings incorporated burlap, a material that came to be strongly associated with his work, lending it a now famous expressiveness and a sculptural quality. His use of a very austere colour palette—limited to white, red and black—provided his canvases with a sense of depth, impenetrability, and an almost cinematic quality. In addition to exploring strictly formal and technical aspects, Millares gave abstraction a narrative, literary and philosophical dimension that is reflected in the titles of many of his paintings, such as Sarcófago para un indeseable (1960), and series like ‘Homúnculos’ (1964) and ‘Antropofaunas’ (1971), among others. Also notable in his work are the extraordinary sense of things being torn apart and the symbolic links between this dramatic quality and the isolation and darkness Spain was going through during the historical period in which the artist lived.
Valentín Roma