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(1926 – 1972), Spain

Manolo Millares Biography

Manolo Millares was an important post-war Spanish artist known for the burlap-based collage paintings that he began making in the mid-1950s. Drawing from contemporaneous avantgarde art movements and an interest in archaeology, Millares used his artwork to convey visceral emotions and moments.

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Manolo Millares' use of burlap derives from the custom of the Guanches—the aboriginal inhabitants of Canary Islands—of wrapping embalmed corpses in fabric. In his collages, Millares stretched burlap over the frame or tore and cut it into pieces that were then tied, folded, stuffed, or sewn onto the canvas, creating cavities and voids in the process. On the surface, the artist typically painted gestural marks in black, white or red; drips and splatters of paint are visible in such works as Cuadro 64 (3) (1959).

In some of Manolo Millares' collages, bundles of burlap suggest abstract anthropomorphic forms that the artist called homunculi. There are more than 40 works under the title 'Homúnculo' conveying shapes that art critic and theorist Alfonso de la Torre described in one essay as evoking 'warriors, acts of mourning, fallen figures'.

Discussions of Millares' work often focuses on the violence of the holes in his burlap and their relation to the 20th century wars that scarred Europe. Reconstructing the fabric, however, is equally significant, as curator Elena Sorokina noted during Millares' solo show Building Bridges, Not Walls (2017) at the Galeria Mayoral Barcelona. Co-curated by Sorokina and de la Torre, the show included Millares (1970): a documentary by his wife the artist Elvireta Escobio that features Millares hand-sewing his collages.

Manolo Millares was an active figure of various post-war Spanish avantgarde movements. In the Canary Islands, he was a key figure of LADAC (The Archers of Contemporary Art): an artist group founded in 1950. After moving to Madrid in the mid-1950s, he co-founded the Informalist group El Paso, which aimed to revolutionise Spanish art, with members including Antonio Saura, Rafael Canogar, Luis Feito, Pablo Serrano, and Manuel Rivera.

Millares began to exhibit internationally early in his career. His participation in the 4th Bienal de São Paulo in 1957 led to the acquisition of his works by several private American collections, including those of James Johnson Sweeney and Nelson A. Rockefeller. The following year, Millares represented Spain in the 29th Venice Biennale alongside other key figures of 20th-century modern and avantgarde art, including Antoni Tàpies, Eduardo Chilida, Canogar, Saura, and Rivera.

In 1960, Millares was part of three major group exhibitions of Spanish art in New York: Before Picasso; After Miró at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New Spanish Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, and Four Spanish Painters: Millares, Canogar, Rivera, Saura at the Pierre Matisse Gallery. Since his premature death in 1972, his work has continued to garner attention in solo and group exhibitions.

In 2018, de Sarthe Hong Kong presented Manolo Millares—Antoni Tàpies: An Informel Step, which explored the artists' work with Informalism, while the Galeria Mayoral Barcelona brought together a selection of artworks from the 29th Venice Biennale's Spanish Pavilion for Venezia 1958 (2019). In 2020, the Galeria Mayoral and Kolkata's Experimenter Gallery hosted A Shoulder on Which to Bear Time: an online conversation between Sorokina and artist Biraaj Dodiya on the lasting impact of Millares' work.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020

Exhibition view: Manuel Rivera & Manolo Millares, Rivera – Millares: Ethics of Reparation, Galeria Mayoral, Barcelona (15 April–24 July 2021). Courtesy Galeria Mayoral. 

Manolo Millares Featured Artworks

Untitled by Manolo Millares contemporary artwork
Manolo MillaresUntitled, 1971Mixed media on burlap
81 x 65 cm
Galeria Mayoral Contact Gallery
Cuadro 128 by Manolo Millares contemporary artwork
Manolo MillaresCuadro 128, 1960–1961Mixed media on burlap
60 x 73 cm
Waddington Custot Contact Gallery
Sin título by Manolo Millares contemporary artwork
Manolo MillaresSin título, 1963Mixed media on paper mounted on canvas
70.7 x 100 cm
Waddington Custot Contact Gallery
Cuadro 84 by Manolo Millares contemporary artwork
Manolo MillaresCuadro 84, 1959Mixed media on burlap
100 x 134 cm
Galeria Mayoral Contact Gallery
Objeto by Manolo Millares contemporary artwork
Manolo MillaresObjeto, c. 1963Mixed media and burlap
50.3 x 45.7 x 18 cm
Galeria Mayoral Contact Gallery
Cuadro 186 by Manolo Millares contemporary artwork
Manolo MillaresCuadro 186, 1962Mixed media on burlap
130.2 x 97.8 cm
Galeria Mayoral Contact Gallery
Cuadro (4) by Manolo Millares contemporary artwork
Manolo MillaresCuadro (4), 1963Mixed media on burlap
100.5 x 81.5 cm
Galeria Mayoral Contact Gallery
Cuadro 64 (3) by Manolo Millares contemporary artwork
Manolo MillaresCuadro 64 (3), 1959Mixed media on burlap
131 x 162.6 cm
de Sarthe Contact Gallery

Manolo Millares Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Manolo Millares, Manuel Rivera, Rivera – Millares: Ethics of Reparation at Galeria Mayoral, Barcelona
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15 April–24 July 2021 Manolo Millares, Manuel Rivera Rivera – Millares: Ethics of Reparation Galeria MayoralBarcelona
Contemporary art exhibition, Group exhibition, Zóbel and The Great Post-War Generation at Fundación PONS, Barcelona
Closed
12–21 March 2021 Group exhibition Zóbel and The Great Post-War Generation Fundación PONSBarcelona
Contemporary art exhibition, Manolo Millares, Manuel Rivera, Rivera – Millares: Ethics of Reparation at Galeria Mayoral, Paris
Closed
14 January–3 April 2021 Manolo Millares, Manuel Rivera Rivera – Millares: Ethics of Reparation Galeria MayoralParis

Manolo Millares Represented By

Galeria Mayoral contemporary art gallery in Barcelona, Spain Galeria Mayoral Barcelona, Paris

Manolo Millares In Video & Audio

A Shoulder on Which to Bear Time Related Video & Audio A Shoulder on Which to Bear Time 2 September 2020, Galeria Mayoral

A Shoulder on Which to Bear Time A conversation between Biraaj Dodiya and Elena Sorokina on Manolo Millares Thursday 30 July, 2020 In collaboration with Experimenter Gallery, Kolkata India Dodiya and Sorokina build interconnections between Manolo Millares' work and its 'duende', inviting it into their exchanges. They discuss what it...

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Millares: Textile Semantics | Conversation between Elena Sorokina and Chus Martínez Related Video & Audio Millares: Textile Semantics | Conversation between Elena Sorokina and Chus Martínez 19 July 2017, Galeria Mayoral

Elena Sorokina (Co-curator of the exhibition – Curatorial Advisor at Documenta 14 Kassel/Athens and HISK, Ghent) & Chus Martínez (Director of the Art Institute at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel )

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