Erlea Maneros Zabala

Exercises on Abstraction. Series VI, 2019


Location Gallery 2

Erlea Maneros Zabala

Title Exercises on Abstraction. Series VI, 2019
Medium Offset paper exposed to sunlight
Dimensions each 90 x 60 cm
Copyright © Erlea Maneros Zabala; de las fotografías | all photographs: Archivo Helga de Alvear | Joaquín Cortés
Exhibition number AW203

Different, clearly distinct colour fields. A series of geometric compositions, perhaps, ingeniously conceived and executed? No. In this case, the artist has worked with the sun and with chance. Erlea Maneros Zabala exposed folded newsprint to sunlight in the Californian desert. The effect of the UV radiation on the acid in the paper produced a chemical reaction: the longer the exposure, the darker the paper. Folding the material resulted in a range of different shades.

With this series, in which nature and chance played a part, Erlea Maneros Zabala is questioning the significance of authorship in art, the cult of the artist. But her work, which evokes the abstract art of the 1950s, also shines a critical light on a chapter of art history.

In the 1950s, during the Cold War, abstract art was deployed as a propaganda tool. As a style seemingly untrammelled by ideology, abstract art was seen as a poster child for the freedom of the West. Prominent American abstract artists even received support from the CIA. And in Spain, the Franco regime prioritised abstract art during the period when it was being integrated into the Western international community, in order to present itself as modern, liberal and cosmopolitan.

So the choice of newsprint as a carrier of information, propaganda and political debate isn’t random. The artist provides another hint in her work by referencing the heated discussion about abstract art in the 1970s. In feminist circles, it was seen as too remote and politically outdated, given the urgent need for change and for new ideas.

Further artworks from this exhibition