Magazine article Artforum International

Jose Maria Sicilia

Magazine article Artforum International

Jose Maria Sicilia

Article excerpt

GALERIA SOLEDAD LORENZO

From his first exhibitions, in the midst of the neo-Expressionist wave at the beginning of the '80s, Jose Maria Sicilia's work has been characterized by a pronounced touch of sensuality. Nature, too, has played an important role in his work; in his first solo exhibition in Spain, at the legendary Galeria Fernando Vijande in 1983-84, he included a great many landscapes, some of them alpine scenes. If one attempts an overview of his work, it is clear that sensuality and beauty, and their relationship to nature, are among the issues that have interested him most deeply.

In 1993, Sicilia produced "Sanlucar de Barrameda," a series of richly textured white paintings in which recognizable figures (a bird, a branch, a vase) are submerged under a highly built-up surface. It was as if to say that in the end all form refers to the material, and its beauty is found within it in an essentialized manner. Perhaps because of this, the imagery of his well-known flower paintings from the mid-'80s makes more sense now than it did at the time. Sicilia has been employing wax as a material for about eight years, but only since his 1997 semi-retrospective exhibition at the Palacio de Vel6.zquez, Madrid, has he refined his motif so as to divest it of its nonessential, ornamental elements. It sounds paradoxical to observe this of a body of work that seems so decorative and whose values reside above all in the surface, but as Hofmannsthal would have said, in this case the superficial form is the essence. …

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