Permanent Collection

César Manrique

Lanzarote (Canary Islands), 1919–1992
Painting Number 100, 1962Painting Number 100, 1962

Nowadays, Manrique is better known for his urban sculptures than for his painting: for instance, these sculptures can be seen in his native Lanzarote—one of the most beautiful Canary islands—or in Madrid's La Vaguada shopping center. But, prior to embarking on his "total art" voyage —a Wagnerian term coined by the artist himself as a title for some of his exhibitions—Manrique, who studied at Madrid's School of Fine Arts, was a non-objectivist painter.

What is immediately striking about Pintura número 100—and most of Manrique's paintings of the period —are the coarse, rough and cracked materials, like volcanic lava, which is to be found in abundance on the Canary Islands. It is only after this first impression when we notice that, compared to other works of this tendency, Pintura número 100 displays an explosive, exacerbated range of colors, far apart from the ochers, grays and the pure browns that dominated Spanish art at the time.

I have mentioned lava, as it is not difficult to draw a connection between Manrique's materials and the desertic horizons of his native island. Although geography is always of secondary importance in art, it is no coincidence that many of the Canary Islands' greatest artists of the 1950s have, at some point, felt the need to incorporate some features of their homeland in their work. This is particularly evident in the case of artists such as Manuel Millares, Martín Chirino, Tony Gallardo and Manrique himself. These features can be historical or, as in the case of Pintura número 100, geological.

Juan Manuel Bonet, en Catalog Museo de Arte Abstracto Español, Cuenca, Fundación Juan March, Madrid, 2016