Spanish artist, JosÃ© MarÃa Sicilia, will be unveiling his most recent series of wax paintings and drawings, ‘Eclipses’, at Albion, London, as part of a new and on-going body of work previously unseen in Europe.
With his penchant for travelling and exploring societies from Morocco to India, Sicilia has always had an interest in uncovering the symbolism of different cultures, not only through their sacred texts but also in the stories and books that are cultural emblems. These are at the epicentre of records of their respective cultural histories. The historical and modern migration of culture interests Sicilia as a means of approaching the complexity of the present-day world and its most universal symbols.
The works in this exhibition are inspired by universally recognised classic works of literature. They pose an intriguing search for connections between the literary narration of life as adventure and the legendary Arabian tales portrayed through the visual arts. Sicilia’s prints and drawings offer interpretations and evocations of the myths and dreams in the stories told by Scheherazade as well as make reference to multiple literary sources such as Alice in Wonderland and the work of Borges. Sicilia sees himself as part of the tradition of story-telling that diffused these stories through time and civilisation.
Sicilia utilises wax and light, darkness and night and the seasons as inspirations. ‘Eclipses’ best defines the work of Sicilia over the last ten years as it struggles to capture and express an instant of light and diffused intensity and the eclipse of day by night. This exhibition really began in 1995 with a book about ‘A Thousand and One Nights’, published by the artist. Albion will present an overview of the paintings and drawings he has created over the last 10 years.
The sixty oil and wax paintings on display are accompanied by an extensive series of black/grey drawings, which appear to be the polar opposite of his colourful, delicate wax paintings; placed alongside the paintings, they fracture and multiply the meanings of the series. In Sicilia’s most recent works, the flower motif becomes progressively more abstract until it disappears altogether; eclipsed by a luminous flash that dilutes it into splashes of vivid and intense colour. For Sicilia, beeswax has become an indispensable material in his pictorial dialogue. The degree of intensity possessed by this luminous substance, not only in the memory of its pouring in liquid form onto the surface of the paintings, but in the way it receives the paint and reflects the light to create an empty space in its interior, is what is as haunting in his work as what is most memorable in the recounting and adaptation of tales from A Thousand and One Nights. The drawings were made in the winters of Sicilia’s sojourns in Paris, whilst the wax paintings were created in the springs and the autumns whilst he was travelling.
Born in 1954 in Madrid, Sicilia studied at the Facultad de Bellas Ares, Madrid, moving to Paris and then to New York in the 1980s. He has had a number of highly successful exhibitions, amongst others, MusÃ©e d’Art Contemporain (Bordeaux, 2001), MusÃ©e des Beaux-Arts (Caen, 2000), Tamada Projects Corporation (Toskyo, 1999), Venice Biennale (1986). His most recent series of works have been exhibited at the Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, Gran Canaria and Mahmoud Khalil Museum, Cairo.
‘Eclipses’: All images courtesy the Artist and Albion.
JOSE MARIA SICILIA, ‘ECLIPSES’
31 August – 4 October
8 Hester Road London SW11 4AX
By tube: South Kensington, Sloane Square
By bus: Numbers 19, 49, 345
By rail: Clapham Junction
Easy access from Waterloo International