Manolo Paz


Manolo Paz completed his studies at "Maestro Mateo" School of Arts and Crafts in Santiago de Compostela between 1978 and 1979. In 1980, he became professor at the Escuela de Canteiros in Poio (Pontevedra). His first works focused on a language centred on the dominion of space and open space. In the 1983 Satélites series, the artist used various materials including concrete and formwork processes to shape industrial-inspired fragmented structures. That same year, a brief stay in New York allowed the artist to make contact with new trends thanks to MOMA and other modern art centres. After returning to Spain, he went from "satellite to monolith," in his own words, focusing more on the land than on spatial concepts. From that moment on, his work became reflections on the value of autochthonous culture, its symbols, its signs, its materials (stone, granite) and its dialogue with the memory of the place where the sculpture would be located.

In 1984, his participation in the exhibitions "Encontros no Espacio" and "Imágenes dos Oitenta" caught the eye of Fernando Vijande, a gallery owner based in Madrid. Paz began to exhibit his work in Vijande's galleries, joining the national art circuits and participating in international fairs and collective exhibitions. Paz's art unites the rudiments of stonework and the conscience of an artistic independence that proposes a reinterpretation of stone as a material with its own signification. His monoliths or menhirs are tied to an ancestral collective subconscious, a natural setting with our without human contact and, in a way, rooted in Celtic culture. An example is a piece called "Áncora" that makes reference to the Neolithic world but from the perspective of the anthropological and handcrafted tradition, thanks to which they continue to be present in Galicia's culture today.The artist is familiar with these objects thanks to his intimate relationship with the sea.

The material realities and the artist's confrontation with stone's expressive possibilities run parallel to the intrahistorical discourse. The artist's direct shaping of the stone searches for contrasts in the rough surface and the smooth depths through which new colours arise. Heaviness and solidity are made lighter by the verticality of the piece and the perforations and mouldings on the upper sections.

In 1986, he combined stone and wood. The wood is used as a base, reaching a degree of integration, of assimilation with regards to the temperatures in the rudimentary treatment of both materials, that the sculptures achieve perfect unity in which both materials share prominence. These pieces stress the totemic value of the wooden beam which is divided by a block of stone. The predominant feature of these pieces is an ascending aesthetic related to the verticality of the body, the anthropomorphic trunk, not exempt of phallic connotations, evident in pieces like "Sipotes" (1986).

More rational factors come into play in the works of 1989, including balance, tension, volume, horizontal stability and the achievement of a space that relaxes while surrounded by large lithic structures, in detriment to the limits of admiration imposed by the previous vertical stones. Radical geometrisation and the abandonment of emotions derived from handcrafted processes are substituted here by the more industrial emphasis of granite blocks.

In 1992, Paz receives the Unión Fenosa Grant for Artistic Creation outside of Spain and returns to New York. He then departs from the artificiality of the base and opts for more natural settings for his pieces, either as an installation or isolated after the specific location has been chosen. In New York, Paz also worked on an alternative to direct sculpting and granite, making assembled sculptures with geometric and constructivist bases and Neo-pop touches. He also experimented with metal. These pieces are placed directly on the floor and explicitly transmit the debate between nature and culture by creating a confrontation between the material and its presentation. Manolo Paz's works are included in important museums and private and institutional collections including Fundación ICO, the Museum of Duisburg in Germany, Fundación Oriente in Lisbon, the Unión Fenosa Museum in A Coruña, the Namakunay Sculpture Park (Japan) and the Caixa Galicia Art Collection (A Coruña).

In 1994, Paz completes two of his most representative works: Familia de Menhires or Menhires por la Paz, a group of 12 sculptures located facing the Tower of Hercules in A Coruña. Click here for a virtual tourl.

In 2010, he completes the cross for Benedict XVI's altar, where the Pope conducts liturgical events during visits to Santiago de Compostela.

In 2011, his work Menhir, a piece measuring ten metres in height and weighing over 120 tonnes, is installed in the accesses to the new installations of Santiago de Compostela airport.

That same year, he is named numerary member of the Real Academia Galega de Belas Artes de Nosa Señora do Rosario (Galician Royal Academy of Fine Arts) in the Sculpture section, giving his speech titled, "A Pedra e o Home: Reflexos".

He also obtains the Premio da Cultura Galega de Artes Plásticas (Galician Culture Award for Plastic Arts) and the City Hall of Cambados grants him the Ramón Cabanillas Award.

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