Carmen Calvo (Valencia, 1950) begins to stand out on the Spanish art scene during the Seventies. The influences of Pop Art, received largely through its Valencian version embodied by Rafael Solbes and Manolo Valdés, members of Equipo Crónica, are part of her beginnings.
However, her convergence with Pop Art did not reach an agreement on the relative fundamentals of the reproducibility of objects in series. For the Valencian artist there is a uniqueness in character that exists in her conception of the object, having almost nostalgic connotations, which separates her from the movement’s ideals, setting into motion a trajectory similar to the Valencian Miquel Navarro, with which Calvo’s work shares a certain taste in the distribution of small elements in space, either through painting or installation.
Calvo is one of the leaders in contemporary conceptualisation of the fragment. Interested in archaeology, her work has an essence of discovery and reminiscence. This exhibition at the Palacio de Velázquez brings the visitor close to a hundred works by the artist spanning from 1976 to 2002, focusing especially on the Nineties. The diversity of materials used in the creation of her work is one of her most personal traits. Items that have been found or purchased from the Madrid markets together with materials like cement, marble, glass, clay, plaster and a long list of others are part of her compositions that have been renovated over the decades into an evolution that led her to represent Spain in the Pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 1997 along with the Catalan Joan Brossa.
Resonances, seen by the artist as direct influences of Kurt Schwitters and Joseph Cornell are appreciated in the use of what is objectual, the tendency to accumulate and the rhythmic repetition present in her pieces which often incorporates humour. Convergence of the surreal object, the decontextualisation of Dadá and the sobriety of Arte Povera meet in her creations.
The exhibition brings together some of the most emblematic pieces from the artist’s career starting with the paintings that take its assembly to its most taxonomic point, the collection of nature, tombstones, different sculptural groups arranged on small pedestals, the mural Paletas from 1990, the installation Silencio (1995), the piece L'évanouissement (1996), the series of paintings with glass or those other black background canvases such as El porqué de la obesidad de los fantasmas (1997), He aquí como ocurrió (1997), Le mal (1998), Mes petites amoureuses (1998) and Matthiew (1999).
Gold appears in another series represented by pieces such as: La suerte no es ciega; Lectura dudosa; Marcha fúnebre from 1998; along with photographic collages made in the year 2000 including: Cuento me muero si siento por todo, Comme lui je me consume, Sé que he despertado y que todavía duermo and El deseo.
From the exhibition the pieces Una jaula para vivir (2001) and Friso Cómicos (2002), which is three metres long, stand out. Added to this collection are seventy drawings drawn with a mixed technique where babies live with broken dolls.