Manuel Rivera (Granada, 1927 - Madrid, 1995) served as an apprentice in Martín Simón's studio and then studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Granada and at the School of Fine Art in Seville, where he was appointed teacher of painting and drawing in 1951. His first individual exhibition was ...read more
Manuel Rivera (Granada, 1927 - Madrid, 1995) served as an apprentice in Martín Simón's studio and then studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Granada and at the School of Fine Art in Seville, where he was appointed teacher of painting and drawing in 1951. His first individual exhibition was held in 1947 at the Press Association in Granada. In 1954 he moved to Madrid and continued doing the research he had begun a year earlier with his first abstract works. In 1956 he went to Paris where he discovered art informel. He returned to Spain and, after a search for form which focused on space, he suffered a nervous breakdown which led him to abandon conventional painting in favour of sheets of metal. In 1957 he took part in the creation of the El Paso group. In the same year he represented Spain at the São Paulo Biennial and in the following year at the Venice Biennial. 1958 also saw the publication of the first specialised study of his work: Las pinturas metálicas de Rivera, by Cirilo Popovici. After 1960 he extended the range of colours used in his work, until then deliberately restricted to black and white. In time the metal sheets became only one of the mediums he used, alternating with other supports such as paper. In 1969 he was appointed an Academician of the Academy of Fine Arts in Granada, where, four years later, the first retrospective of his work was held. In 1976 the Museum of Modern Art in Paris organised another retrospective. In 1981 he was awarded the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts, in the following year the Great Cross of Isabel la Católica and in 1985 the Cross of the Order of Arts and Letters in France. In 1984 he was admitted to the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts and in 1997 the Reina Sofía National Museum and Art Centre and Granada Provincial Council organised a major retrospective of his life and work, which included the first analytical catalogue of his whole output. The spirit of Rivera's work is essentially dramatic, as can be seen in its scenographic nature; the drama stems from the historical circumstances in which it is created but also permeates the foundations of his subjectivity. It happens with his discovery of the great potential for expression of metal sheets as it does with the metaphor used by Victor Erice in The Spirit of the Beehive: it succeeds in crystallising a whole period but the value of these works as a record is not their only strength and their profoundly creative aspects override what is purely circumstantial. As time went by, it could be seen that it was not Rivera who used metal sheets but the reverse.
AA.VV: Granada de fondo: colección de arte contemporáneo. Diputación de Granada, Granada, Granada Provincial Council, 2003 (catalogue)Read less