CollectionIVAM Alcoi

Infinite Sculpture (Escultura infinita) brings together the work of forty one Spanish artists through ninety one works mainly from the collections of IVAM-Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo Patio Herreriano de Arte Contemporáneo Español and Fundació Antoni Tàpies. This exhibition offers a look at Spanish sculpture in the central core of the twentieth century. The exhibition is presented within a limited chronological framework (1930-1997) and restricted to one country (Spain) or one nationality (Spanish), and proposes an approach to the irruption of the modern art in the field of sculpture. In this sense, the exhibition Infinite Sculpture combines works of art by representatives of Spanish modernity of the 1930s, such as Alberto Sánchez, Ángel Ferrant or Pablo Palazuelo, who acted as a springboard and inspiration for authors of later generations such as Sergi Aguilar, Cristina Iglesias or Fernando Sinaga.


Atlas Naturae: White Island

IVAM ProduceIVAM Alcoi

Story no. 1
In 1769, the explorer James Cook discovered an almost circular island with an active volcano in the South Pacific. The only visible mountain was a conglomerate of igneous rock, andesite. Its other name, Whakaari, is Maori for “the dramatic volcano”, but Cook preferred White Island because of the visible exhalation from the inside of the Earth; the clouds that formed in its centre constantly shrouding the relief of the island.
Coordinates: 37°31’23.2”S 177°10’57.1”E

Nature is still a mystery for the human species. We might know its rhythms and its functioning but unpredictable randomness is an element we can never manage to trap despite the attempts undertaken by our technological being which has made us believe in the possibility of a Homo Deus.

Story no. 2
In 1539, Pedro Sánchez de la Hoz was appointed lord and governor of Terra Australis Incognita, a continent imagined by Aristoteles and which Ptolomy represented as a large extension of land around the South Pole much larger than Antarctica, situating its limits a little bit further north. James Cook debunked the myth of this legendary continent and erased it from his maps and instead drew White Island where Terra Incognita was once thought to be.
Coordinates: an undetermined place in the Antarctic ocean (without coordinates).

Atlas Naturae: White Island is an artistic intervention made specifically for the hall/workshop at IVAM Alcoi thanks to the IVAM Produces programme to support artistic production. The title of the project proposes a double play; first of all, it creates a visual atlas of nature, and for this purpose it engages with the work of the botanist Cavanilles which is then connected with James Cook’s voyage to White Island, generating a taxonomy of discoveries in images and words. Secondly, the installational mise en scène of the paintings, drawings, objects and videos identifies the analogue world with naturalia and the digital world with artificialia.

The dialogue we strike with our natural environment is wide-ranging and diverse. We have been able to date the creation of the Earth to around 4550 million years ago and also to visualize the Big Bang theory in a laboratory. We have studied the reproduction of bacteria in order to understand the beginning of the first life form and we have chronicled the voyage of Homo Sapiens through the Mediterranean, southern Europe and Asia since over 50,000 years ago through the remains we have discovered, while the other extension of ourselves travelled towards the confines of Ptolomy. Our memory is a memory of fragments, a mix of stories told by firelight. We have sculpted Demeter and painted Saturn devouring his children. At the same time, we have decoded the DNA sequence that recognizes Darwin’s theories on the evolution of the species and, now, we can watch online, as a result of our reckless ambition, as tonnes of ice melt into the sea from the coldest place on the planet, the land close to White Island and the imagined Terra Incognita.

My previous project, called Sistema Humboldt. Pensar/Pintar, proposed a random network of relationships between the University of Valencia’s Natural History collections, the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt and the artistic production derived from this encounter through a glossary of paired words that opposed the world of intuitive randomness with the digital world of algorithms, the place where bodies disappear behind the liquid screen. However, the times of nature are different, and Atlas Naturae: White Island posits a new taxonomy, a tree of categories in order to reflect on what Humboldt defined as “that inextricable network of organisms by turns developed and destroyed—each step that we make in the more intimate knowledge of nature leads to the entrance of new labyrinths”.


Products for a global world

ExhibitionIVAM Alcoi

To think about contemporary society is also to think about the role played by the industrially produced object as a support for individual and collective meaning. The transformation in everyday objects has made design a critical element in the cultural anthropology of contemporary societies.

This exhibition outlines a walkthrough of product design in Valencia from 2009 until the present by means of a carefully chosen selection of around 170 works that mirror the complexity and experimental or innovative value of this field of design. Staging the exhibition in IVAM Alcoi can be seen as an homage to a city which was one of the centres of the industrial revolution in Spain in the late-nineteenth century, and indeed to the towns in the inland of the province of Alicante which have maintained a strong tradition in productive industry right up until the current moment in time. In this regard, the exhibition takes a look at product design understood in a broad sense, ranging from objects that shape the domestic sphere to objects conceived for the public space, as well as objects that enable meeting, working, or waiting outside the home.


ExhibitionIVAM Alcoi

The exhibition is about the concept of the achievement society, as defined by Byung-Chul Han and other authors. A society that concentrates on production as a self-imposed objective, in which the positivity of can rises above the negativity of should that was derived from the earlier paradigm developed in what Michel Foucault called the disciplinary society.

The artists and the works selected offer reflections about various aspects that we may associate with the achievement society, such as the organisation of society derived from the world of work, education, the concepts of tension and balance or the redimensioning of time. In the exhibition, the artists Lorenzo Sandoval, Irene Grau, Lluc Mayol, Nuria Fuster, Juan Sánchez, Andrea Canepa and Manu Blázquez show that they belong to a generation that has experienced a time of crisis at an important point in their personal and professional development, a crisis that seems never-ending and that has brought with it a reappraisal of our values and our ways of life.

The place where the exhibition is being presented, IVAM Alcoi, is important. Alcoi is a town with a significant industrial past that has had a considerable influence on its subsequent development. This industrial past, especially the part connected with the textile industry, is the reason for taking Alcoi as a reference point for the projects developed by these artists, who in this way connect with their town, its social agents, its past and its present, thus showing that the placeis something that extends beyond its physical location.

Weaving art

CollectionIVAM Alcoi

The exhibition begins with an indication of the formal values that liberated textile art from interior design and launched it upon a conquest of space, eliminating the influence of painting. The contributions made by Jean Lurçat and the events organised by the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne led to the introduction of new materials, textures and volumes, which opened up new paths of investigation and which artists such as Aurèlia Muñoz and Josep Grau-Garriga, in the field of tapestry, and Antoni Tàpies, from the viewpoint of the postulates of Informalism, helped to establish. From those achievements the show moves on to more recent aspects, in which the sociocultural mesh and conceptual premises have become the basis for artistic creation. The feminist struggle, the treatment of the body, the definition of identities and social and political protest are some of the themes through which the visitor will travel in the works of Clemencia Labin, Polly Apfelbaum, Joana Vasconcelos, Cosima von Bonin, Kimsooja, Yinka Shonibare, Cristina Lucas, Carolina Caycedo, Laure Prouvost, Annette Messager, Eva Lootz, Ricardo Cotanda and Robert Morris, among others.

Spanish painting in the IVAM collection

CollectionIVAM Alcoi

The exhibition presents a journey into the evolution of Spanish painting through the IVAM Collection. One of the main assets in the Spanish painting collection of the IVAM is a set of works by artists who followed Informalism in Spain, represented by Juan Francés, Antoni Tàpies, Manolo Millares and Antonio Saura. Abstract paintings by Valencian artists are also presented, with the founders of the Parpalló Group in 1956 like  Jacinta Gil and Joaquín Michavila, as well as the New Realism of Eduardo Arroyo and Equipo Crónica. The selection includes works by relevant artists in the history of Spain’s contemporary painting:  Pablo Palazuelo, Albert Ràfols-Casamada, Soledad Sevilla and Jordi Teixidor, as well as representatives of the new pictorial trends such as José Manuel Broto, Carmen Calvo, Miguel Ángel Campano, Susy Gómez, Ferran García Sevilla and José M.ª Sicilia.

ExhibitionIVAM Alcoi

Eusebio Sempere (Onil, Alicante, 1923–1985) had his first experience of Paris on a grant, which imbued him with a knowledge of modern art and also allowed him to experience the work of Wassily Kandinsky first hand. Sempere was ‘awestruck’ by the art he saw in Paris, and in the summer of 1949 exhibited an early example of abstract gouaches that resulted from this experience. On a later return to Paris in 1950, he studied the work of Piet Mondrian as an expression of the rigour and order of abstraction. Sempere aligned himself with the tendency in abstraction stemming from the concrete movement of the interwar period. Sempere was a frequent visitor to two of the spaces that played a part in forging this tendency: the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, where he met Auguste Herbin and then Michel Seuphor; and Galerie Denise René, which represented a series of artists the painter made contact with, including, in particular, Victor Vasarely and Jesús Rafael Soto.

In Paris, Sempere set out in 1953 on a solitary, coherent, slow labour of investigation culminating in the definition of his own work, which developed alongside the Kinetic movement introduced in April 1955 at the legendary exhibition Le mouvement on the initiative of Victor Vasarely at Galerie Denise René.

Eusebio Sempere’s investigation of kinetic art comprised two different modes. Firstly, a broad spectrum of what the artist considered to be experimental work, with gouache drawings, normally on black Canson paper; and secondly, a smaller set of Relieves luminosos móviles (Luminous mobile reliefs) made of wooden board, perspex sheets, lightbulbs and small electric motors. All of these works originated, according to the artist, as an ‘impulse to restructure painting after its ill-treatment during the success and dissemination of the Informalist movement’. Several of Sempere’s reliefs were exhibited in the summer 1955 Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, shortly after the Le mouvement exhibition. A manifesto by the artist accompanied the reliefs, speaking of light as the element that poetic dialogue would be built up with over time.

Sempere’s gouache works developed a concept of composition in which perspective was excluded. Everything occurs in one plane with a profusion of geometric figures expanding across the neutral ground of the paper. These surfaces are almost always built up by a multitude of highly nuanced fine lines and small planes of colour, and the shapes appear to evolve physically in space so that, in the artist’s words, ‘everything becomes a continual backwards and forwards movement of the eye’.

Sempere’s Relieves luminosos móviles – a complete view of which is showed in this exhibition – evolve from simple geometric shapes and white light in the first pieces, to other works which filter light through thin coloured plastic sheets, with more complicated forms including the introduction of a mechanism of small engines that create sequences as light bulbs turn on and off. These works were admired by Vasarely for the rigour of their signs and their measured colour and light, which he said were ‘inscribed in time with a resrtained, moving sensibility’.

Sempere participated in the 1959 Bienal de São Paulo with a number of reliefs, and also took part in some of the exhibitions by the Grupo Parpalló, founded by Vicente Aguilera Cerni in 1960. He then returned to Spain at a time when artistic modernity was an accepted fact, with Informalism as the dominant tendency. At this point a new stage in the artist’s career began during which the artist focused his concentration on painting, continuing to work in gouache on larger pieces with roughly textured surfaces he previously prepared, evolving a grammar based on fine, perpetually varying coloured lines in a rich, refined arrangements of tones which, with the technical difficulties indicated by the artist himself, were the means towards some astonishing works whose vibration, shifting light, and spatial and atmospheric effect were decisive.

In 1964, the year of his journey to the United States, where he met Josef Albers, the artist’s work took on a new thrust which led him to define the syntax of his later work and to incorporate two new materials, cardboard and iron. For a short, intense period of time, he made a group of pieces he called ‘collages’ which involved meticulous work cutting out cardboard. The interaction of successive planes in space or depth was also effectively developed as the basis of a series of mobiles using chrome plated or painted metal rods, which the artist exhibited later the same year in New York. From 1965 onwards, Sempere intensified his production of mobiles, using screens in order to fully investigate the many optical contrasts created by the play of different planes, creating dynamic, changing, luminous sculptures. In his painting of the same period we find the essential elements in his language, starting with the primary sign of line and colour together, whether in exclusively geometrical works or others in which glimpses of a landscapeoriented figurative approach, alluding to the light of nature, may be seen. He also produced many folders of screenprints and made an important contribution to the use of this technique.

Sempere also took part in a wide variety of initiatives (which he considered to be investigative work) influenced by the interaction of painting and sculpture with music, architecture, new technologies, cybernetics and science, revealing the breadth of his artistic interests. The idea of concurrence between the arts, of concrete poetry, musicality and objetivation, can be seen, for instance, in his project for IBM – a mobile light structure synchronised with music and concrete poetry, made in 1969 by Eusebio Sempere with musician Cristóbal Halffter and poet Julio Campal. In this context, his participation in the Seminars on Analysis and Automatic Generation of Artistic Forms at the Calculus Centre, Madrid University (currently Universidad Complutense de Madrid) in 1969-1972, out of which came computer-generated works, and in the exhibitions organised by Aguilera Cerni, Antes del Arte. Experiencias ópticas perceptivas estructurales in Valencia and Madrid in 1968.

This exhibition spans three decades of Sempere’s work and includes gouaches, light reliefs, paintings on board, collages, metal mobiles and mobile sculptures, will travel to the new venue of the IVAM in Alcoi, from November 16th, 2018 to February 3rd, 2019 .