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Martín Chirino. Retrospective

10 may, 1991 - 21 july, 1991 /
Palacio de Velázquez, Parque del Retiro, Madrid

The exhibition of sculptural works by Martín Chirino (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1925) provides an overview of a career that began in the fifties and reaches today; it proposes a dual recognition of the Chirino persona. On one hand, as heir to the Spanish sculptural avant-garde of the first half of the twentieth century, following that initiated by Julio González and Pablo Gargallo, in addition to his particular interest in the Canarian Aboriginal culture (Guanche). On the other, for his outstanding role in the renewal of artistic languages used post-war, through his participation in the group El Paso, of which he was a founding member, in 1957. This group marked the emergence of an art rooted in Spanish tradition, while at the same time critical of the social and political situation; this also led to the internationalisation of the authors and their works.

Chirino's work is based on two principles: wrought iron; the main material used in his sculptures, and the spiral; a symbol and formal solution recurring throughout his career. Here the foundations of his work were synthesised: the notion of folding and unfolding, the horizontal and vertical development in space and in the curvature of a material that, in his hands, and recovering the tradition of shaping, becomes ductile. Chirino’s sculptural production extends and groups chronologically according to specific reasons, whose referent is always and ultimately found in nature and the real world, which he emphasises for a long time until he exhausts all of its expressive possibilities.

The older pieces gathered in this exhibition, from 1957, are part of the series Raíces y Composiciones, followed by Inquisidores (which boasts a torn and twisted abstraction) and Vientos. The series Mediterráneas and Ladies reveal a monumental will, given its large size. The next group consists of the Aeróvoros which, like huge birds in flight, reach more than three metres in length. In the second half of the Seventies he goes back to using forms and symbols that relate to the Guanche culture, with which he produces the Afrocán series, which represent a synthesis between mask and spiral, and Penetrecan, which resemble totem poles. Cabezas follows a period immersed in synthetic and expressive works collected under the title Paisajes, here he conducts a dialogue with the history of avant-garde sculpture, with references to Constantin Brancusi, Julio González and Pablo Gargallo . Worth noting among his recent works are Atlantic (year), where he recovers the notion of monumental sculpture that does not use a pedestal, emphasising the natural growth of the work from the earth itself (such as cycle and identity). Through his work, Chirino establishes a double game between tradition and modernity, on one hand, and on the other, an Atlantic identity (Canary Islands) inserted into an international sphere.

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
Curatorship: 
Ana Beristáin

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