Manuel Ángeles Ortiz (Jaén, 1895 - Paris, 1984) is one of the pre-eminent figures in the revival process of Spanish art throughout the Twenties and up until the Civil War; a point of reference not only for the artists that travel to Paris, but also for those working in the peninsular, mainly due to his collaboration with the magazine Litoral. Eugenio Carmona, the exhibition's curator, defines this heterogeneous production of approaches and languages that fall under the term Art Bouveau as, “the link between Spanish art practices and the international Modernist Movement.”
By virtue of around fifty works, this retrospective exhibition looks at the output of Ángeles Ortiz after the Thirties; therefore, his divergent artistic output is presented in various stages: his lengthy stay in Paris (1922-1932), his exile to Buenos Aires (1939-1948), sporadic trips to Granada and his definitive relocation to the French capital in 1948.
Following the first period spent in Paris, the influence of Pablo Picasso runs deep through his work - his painting employs the same alternation of languages (Late Cubism, line drawing and classically inspired monumental volumes, etc.), a manifestation of the divergent approximations that return to the order propagated by different voices, from Cahiers d´Art to Jean Cocteau or Amédée Ozenfant. Furthermore, as Carmona points out, the friendship and professional ties to the composer Manuel de Falla influence his work in two ways: the aesthetic evaluation of the music and the reinforcement of the “relationship between popular figurative tradition and modern art.”
As an artist with a nebulous stylistic classification, his work shows, through its independence, a strong inclination for the experimental and a complete dismissal of abstract painting. Rather, in his own words, he is attracted to the “enigmatic lyricism, not morbid aberration of psychotic fixation” in Surrealism, and the same occurs in Buenos Aires, as his wood series does not involve found objects, but pieces worked on according to his own intuitions. All of this adheres to the tradition of poetry found in primitivism, developed by artists such as Benjamín Palencia, Ángel Ferrant and Alberto Sánchez as well as by Paul Klee, Jean Arp and Constantin Brancusi.
From the Fifties onwards, the perseverance of landscape and the human figure coexist and lead him towards compositional analysis (La casa de los Dávila, 1957; Cabeza geométrica, 1960; Homenaje al Greco, 1975; and Albaicín, 1982) as he creates works that combine lyricism and construction that, without belittling the role of painting, can be placed on the boundaries of Informalism.
Museo de Bellas Artes de Granada (19 September - 3 November, 1996)