El Manto

El Manto


El Manto | 51″ x 38″ | Oil


SKU: DOM-120238 Artist: Tag:
Nicole Wolff
Gallery Director

I was born in Barcelona in 1952, and come from a working class family. My grandfather together with my father had a little carpenter’s workshop in the center of Barcelona. I therefore practically grew up in between the wood, furniture, glue, sandpaper and varnishes used in the workshop.

Although I studied, like all the other children in Spain in the 1950’s, all my education was directed to the carpentry trade, following in the family tradition. But I have to say my passions were for art and design and I was not very good at Mathematics and other subjects. I took drawing lessons (Technical design) from a private teacher who was a close friend of my father and had, in fact, taught my father painting when he was younger. He too had a love for the subject. My father had painted at least 30 canvasses and I remember as a child how we used to visit the exhibitions on Sunday evening’s to see his work. This was as routine as our weekly Sunday evening family walk.

When I finished my professional education in wood work I spent some time in the Tarrega Academy where I perfected my drawing and I learned the technique of charcoal drawing. I would draw the shapes of sculptures such as David’s Miguel Angel, Milo’s Venus, Seneca’s head and much more.

This learning served a basis for the next three years, where I studied design at the High School of Arts and Crafts in the Masana School, Barcelona. My professional life as an artist began in 1989, when I left the carpentry business and dedicated myself full time to painting. In 1974 I presented my work to the Sala Pares – a prestigious gallery in Barcelona, which was a great opportunity for any young artist. The selection of my work was a pleasant surprise to them, which pleased me greatly as it was the first time that any of the public had viewed my work. In 1985, I entered a competition that was dedicated to sports artists. The competition was held because Baron Pierre de Couvertein, the initiator of the modern Olympic Games, wanted to re-create the relationship between art and sports that had existed in ancient Greece. I won first prize in that competition and that award allowed me to introduce my paintings to many art galleries. After this competition came many more like it, as well as numerous exhibitions. I was lucky that just that one painting exposed me to all of that.

The thing that really inspired me to become a painter was Vincent Minelli’s film ‘The Mad Man With The Red Hair’, based on Van Gogh’s life and his relationship with Gaugin. Together with a close friend of mine, who was also interested in art, we used to take boxes of paints (I took my father’s oils box) and head for the countryside to paint ‘eu plein air’ landscapes, which we captured in an evidently ‘impressionist’ style.

We did this for approximately two years, however, when my friend and I reached the ages of 19-20 years old, life changed the way we looked at things. Events such as first relationships with the opposite sex, engagements, weddings etc. made me concentrate on more reflexive paintings, (atelier painting). This led me to paint still life subjects such as compositions of fruits and domestic objects. I used to alternate this with drawing figurative subjects twice a week at Saint Lluch (Circle of Art). I was an active member of this association for three years. What do I want to express with my work? Well, I always try to go deeply into myself, searching for the equilibrium, the simplicity – to show just the basic element. I express myself through objects, elements, figures, different situations, feelings, balance, meditation and self-reflection. I want to express peace and quietness, and for this, when I began painting, I painted the female form and femininity. Women give to me that peacefulness, sensibility, sexuality, and the maternal instinct. All of this stirs my emotions and provokes the need in me to transmit my feelings on canvas. I want to make people understand that my figures are not just a woman – but a feeling of love, peace and shyness. In order to get that feeling my models never look directly at the observer, they have the eyes semi-closed in a way that maintains her discretion and intimacy... her feeling of privacy.

I spent most nights working in my studio, a short distance away from my home. My work could have been classified academic up until 1978, when an important event occurred for me that changed my style of painting – the birth of my first daughter, and following that two more children in 1981 and 1986. At this time the economy was not in a good state, and in Spain it was often said that “hunger sharpens inventiveness”. This was certainly true for me. I had to economize with materials and thus I began to work with oils in a way that I had previously only worked with watercolors (this greatly developed my style of painting). I applied the oil with rags, stumps or capes that were usually only used to varnish or polish the furniture. I used the colour very diluted with trementine essence, applying and eliminating it, and letting the paint dry many times over. This is how my technique began. Although it was purely an economical decision to paint in this way back then, this is now not a cheap way for me to paint. It is actually the opposite. I am also not able to use a normal canvas, I have to prepare it first. Also, the pigment of my oils have to be pure and of the highest quality.

I believe that artists live their work intensely. It’s their passion 24 hours a day and is a way of life rather than a job. And, as time goes by this passion sharpens and improves the quality of the work more and more. I think that when the inspiration comes, it is better that it reaches you while you are working in the studio. With regards to the routine of a regular day – I constantly have a notebook with me to take impressions and notes that cross my mind during the day. This helps me see the development through my drawings. From this notebook I can see that I bounce around the same ideas and have the same intentions for my paintings all the time, even though I may not know it at the time. A combination of emotions are reflected in my paintings. Work is such an important part of my life, because, for me, there are still a lot of things to discover and learn.