Immeasurable Distance surveys the career of Manolo Quejido (Seville, 1946). The exhibition starts from the works Deliriums, Siluetas y Secuencias (Deliriums, Sillhouettes and Sequences, 1969–1974), black-and-white reductions of the three routes the artist embarked upon in his practice: Expressionism, Pop Art and geometric experimentation. In 1974, Quejido began to study the possibility of taking a different approach to painting with his Cartulinas (Cards), pictorial studies within the standard frame size of 100 x 70 cm. Towards the end of that decade, and as he adopted a larger scale, he focused on compositional painting, for instance in La familia (The Family, 1980) and Bañistas (Bathers, 1981).
His concerns would later shift towards the pictorial representation of scenes: through a persistent search and lineage that was Velázquez-esque, Quejido upended the parameters delimiting the interior space of a picture’s plane in myriad ways. Thus, he went from his Reflejos (Reflections) in the mid-1980s to the Tabiques (Partitions) in the early 1990s, investigating the two-dimensionality of painting. Years later, when his attentions turned to the uniqueness of the Mobius strip, he revisited the enigma of cubic capacity on a painting’s surface.
Furthermore, the exhibition includes works in which Quejido reflects on thought and painting: Does painting represent a thought or reproduce it? Can the history of painting be a thought system? His work reveals these questions along with painting as work and action, two divergent yet adjacent directions. Thus, La pintura (The Painting, 2002) presents an unmeasured distance as minute: the immediacy of painting with respect to that which is painted, and its fusion in the unique term “painting”.
In a very different register, the artist draws from painting to denounce what he calls a world in a state of “widespread mediation” — “the unbearable image that produces a timocracy through the State, war, consumerism and the media” as he puts it — opposite his reactions since 1993. In the face of the overwhelming empire of consumption, he accumulates enlarged images of labels and offers to stress their banality. He also calls a collection of paintings reproducing press photos Sin nombre (Nameless).
Immeasurable Distance serves as an introduction to the multi-faceted oeuvre Manolo Quejido has been building across his extensive career, and in retrospectively examining his work the show allows not only for a greater awareness of the lucidity and rigour of his plastic investigations, but also his radically critical approach, leading to a redefinition of the parameters from which we think about and view painting.
Museo Reina Sofía Publications