José María Sicilia. L'Horabaixa

16 october, 1997 - 11 january, 1998 /
Palacio de Velázquez, Parque del Retiro, Madrid
Exhibition view. José María Sicilia. L'Horabaixa, 1997
Exhibition view. José María Sicilia. L'Horabaixa, 1997

L'Horabaixa is the title for the exhibition where José María Sicilia (Madrid, 1954) faces the moment when dusk becomes light -the moment this Majorcan saying refers to- with the brightness of the exhibition space. At the same time, the difficulty of naming the elements in the twilight finds its counterpart in the poetic recreation of a garden or the loose pages of a book, subject to the effects of the light, transparency and glazing caused by the wax.

The exhibition is held at the Palacio de Velázquez, where Sicilia displayed his paintings in 1988 at the exhibition José María Sicilia. Paintings from 1987. The pieces, designed as large panels made with beeswax on wood, are arranged in series along the walls of the Palacio. The result is an installation which iconically and symbolically refers to nature as a material source of art.

Sicilia refers to a particular cycle, where the medium and theme are implicit: flower, bee, cell and wax are activated as a poetic vision. In these pieces the conversion and use of wax as a pictorial material emphasises its expressive possibilities, and the painting process concentrates its reflection on the limits of the act of painting.

The series Sanlúcar de Barrameda (1992-1996), which could be understood as an artist's book emphasises the idea of painting without a brush. The title refers to the manuscript of comments by San Juan de la Cruz and his own poetry. In the piece, composed of more than a hundred pages, the wax capture signs, insects and Sicilia’s fingerprints, all symbols of baroque categories of transience and transition.

Light and vision in an absolute sense are both issues which this set of pieces emphasise, produced between 1991 and 1997. In this way, the waxy white, the base of his paintings, result in a weightless space where flowers rise or sink, whether they are the crimson petals of La luz que se apaga (1997) or those that form multi-coloured layers in Paravent (1997).

The idea of instantaneousness and fleeting vision is what all pieces have in common. Also, in some of them hidden, blurred and frozen images can be made out behind the wax layer, like in Grisailles (1997). This abstract and reference-less space allows Sicilia to delve into the relationship between surface and depth, implying an abysmal space between figure and depth.

His interest in light peaks with the series La luz que se apaga (1995-1996), where the golden wax layer covering the surface of his paintings contains rich hues and images with references to land, at the same time challenging the setting of the sun.

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Palais de Beaux-Arts, Charleroi
Laurent Busine
Exhibition Tour: 

Palais de Beaux-Arts, Charleroi, Belgium (February 14 - April 19, 1998); Museo de La Pasión, Valladolid; Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires; Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo de San José de Costa Rica (November 20, 1998 - February 6, 1999)