Eugenio Granell, La princesa de Éboli, 1992. VEGAP, Segovia 2017
The Esteban Vicente Museum of Contemporary Art and the Eugenio Granell Foundation are presenting the exhibition Eugenio Granell and Esteban Vicente. Constructions and Toys. This is a curatorship project open to an interrelating of plastic languages and the establishing of connections between the legacy of Esteban Vicente and that of Eugenio Granell.
Eugenio Granell is a crucial figure for understanding international and Spanish surrealism, and his multidisciplinary work and cultural activities in exile bear witness to an original and unique body of work. In turn, Esteban Vicente is one of the most significant Spanish-born artists of the twentieth century. After the Spanish Civil War breaks out he emigrates to the USA and there meets important figures on the contemporary art scene of the time, granting him a position within the current of American abstract expressionism. He spends time with the principal figures in the movement and is greatly valued by its most important critics and gallery owners.
The exhibition aims at creating an interesting dialogue between Esteban Vicente’s Toys and Eugenio Granell’s Constructions in the sense that they both share a concern for the colour and form that connects them with the context of the European avant-garde.
Both productions play with volume in a poetic manner, having this playful aspect in common as the creative spark for their works.
The exhibition brings together a total of sixty-three works. Although most of these are toys and constructions, the exhibition discourse is also reinforced with a selection of drawings by Granell, possible projects for constructions, as well as found objects and a selection of collages by Esteban Vicente, given that the toys could well be considered as three-dimensional collages.
Granell’s constructions, as well as his found objects, have their referent in the tribal and the avant-garde. These works result in volumetric games that he assembles or transforms in an intuitive manner, creating anthropomorphic forms in which the colour and the different objects used take on a marked protagonism. He calls these works constructions due to the technique used: assembly.
The surrealist conception of the works is subject to a poetical conception of them, stripping them of their original meaning and submitting them to the artist’s imagination.
Although influenced by Duchamp’s ready-mades, in making his poem-objects Granell was not seeking provocation but rather proposing a new, more lyrical reading of the elements that make them up. The objects are de-contextualised with literary titles. For Granell no work was complete until it had its title, which adds complexity and depth to the result.
Alongside his paintings, collages and drawings, from the nineteen sixties on Esteban Vicente carried out some small-scale sculptures that are generally no more than a foot tall, with no desire other than being playful, and which he called toys or amusements.
These works are of great beauty and mastery, and are made out of fragments of waste material found in his studio. Most often they are abstract, although we sometimes find realistic figures. They are games of balance, of the relationship of forms, of colours, of intimate poetry and at the same time freedom of expression. Esteban Vicente does not grant these small sculptures with a single point of view, but suggests different interpretations by those who contemplate them. The figure emerges in step with the spectator’s observation.