José Manuel Broto (Zaragoza, 1949) initiates himself into painting based on an Abstraction of geometric nature. In the early seventies he establishes the Grupo Trama along with Gonzalo Tena, Javier Rubio Navarro and Xavier Grau. Other peers from Teruel and Zaragoza such as Federico Jiménez Losantos, José Antonio Labordeta and José Sanchís Sinisterra participate in the artistic atmosphere of this group, which soon moves to Barcelona. There they find their theoretical foundation in Marxism-Leninism, psychoanalytic thought, the doctrine of Mao Zedong and other influences, coming from the French magazine on literary theory and critique: Tel Quel, whose collaborators include thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva, Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco and Georges Bataille.
These influences lead Broto towards an abstraction practiced by artists such as Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Robert Motherwell and Sam Francis, based on lyricism and in some cases, the sublime. The road opened by Antoni Tàpies, who flees from the conceptual to practice a material art based on the essence of painting is fundamental for Broto. Similarly, he moves to Paris where coming into contact with other Spanish artists such as José María Sicilia, Miquel Barceló and Miguel Ángel Campano helps confirm his firm assertion as a painter.
At the Monastery of Silos in Burgos the works of Tàpies, Sicilia and Joan Miró have previously been exhibited. All those pieces enter perfectly into dialogue with the environment, as does the work of Broto. In this exhibition, consisting of twenty-two pieces, the painter -winner of the 1995 Nacional de Artes Plásticas prize- chooses paper as a support for the paintings.
The importance given to the emptiness and the creation of atmospheres are two features present in Broto’s entire production, especially noticeable in Silos, star of this show. The series, made specifically for the architectural context of where it is to be exhibited, works with strips of wallpaper in different shades, mainly tones of reds, yellows, blues and greys. The papers, primarily placed vertically and joined together as polyptychs, make up the project and work as a backdrop to the main image. By applying paint Broto ignores the gaps between the papers, as if nothing can interrupt the flow of reasons on the surface.
In various pieces that make up the series a free stroke alternates with stylised geometric figures which he places floats on the chromatic surface. The undisputed capacity Broto has for colour combinations is an interpretation of transcendence through an abstraction that is more colourful and detailed than those created by his predecessors, Tàpies and Sicilia. Through a medium format, rarely exceeding one metre, the artist adheres to the freedom of playing with different colours chosen at random and independent of its symbolic determination.