Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid

MUSEO NACIONAL CENTRO DE ARTE REINA SOFIA MNCARS | Santa Isabel 52
28012 Madrid

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artist / participant

press release

This unique space—with a centenary Benedictine atmosphere present in each one of its stones, the music of Gregorian chants echoing through the steeples of its magnificent cloister, the spirituality of its cypress trees joining earth and sky, and the color, smell and sacred taste of a past time that continues to bear significance in the present—is undoubtedly the ideal place, both specially and spatially, to host this sculptor’s personal, timeless and spiritual work. Born in Paris in 1965, Xavier Mascaró graduated in Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona in 1988. Although his sculpting career is still in its early years, it has been a fruitful one, consolidated with numerous experiences, works and exhibitions on both a national and an international level. The quality, diversity and uniqueness of his sculptures, drawings, installations and scenographies have turned him into one of today’s most important Spanish artists in the national art scene.

Even though his career began with painting at the end of the 1980s, soon after his interest in plastic arts would move towards volume and space: the terrain of sculpture. His vocation for “drawing presence from the void,” as Giacometti expressed it, would eventually lead him to work in three dimensions by the mid-1990s.

Initially, smelted iron was the material of choice to give shape to his works, as we can see in a good part of the pieces that make up this exhibition. The artist has turned his use of this noble, millennial material into his source for a new sculpting language, inscribing him within a fully Spanish tradition that shares a genealogy with other sculptors like Julio González, Oteiza, Chillida, Serrano and Chirino, and more recently, Cristina Iglesias, Juan Muñoz and Susana Solano, while maintaining his own personal language.

Later on, he would also incorporate new elements and processes into his work, some of them displayed in this exhibition, such as stone, ceramics, resins, glass, bronze, textiles, plaster, tin, fiberglass and even video, broadening the registers of his sculpting language.

Xavier Mascaró’s work is highly diverse and difficult to categorize. Some of the features that construct his very personal, characteristic sculpture are: its visual and conceptual firmness, his frequent use of thematic series and large volumes, his manner of filling and delimiting space in its voids and fullness, his molding plastic forms and masses in constant tension, the presence of a strong symbolic weight, the wide diversity of iconographic elements in his sculptures (animals, dragons, mythical reptiles, boats, helmets, armor, traces of bullfighting, crosses, hands, objects religious in nature, hearts, heads, strange machines, trapped bodies…), a present absence (in human form) that in recent years has remitted to turning this form into a present presence…, the versatility of utilized materials, his reflection on nature and culture, and even a certain taste of narrative plotline that ends up acquiring pure nuances in staging scenography.

Time—the “great sculptor,” as Marguerite Yourcenaur observed it well—inhabits and likewise gives meaning to his sculptures. A time that occupies a double register: both universal and personal, past and future. In the words of Francisco Carpio, curator of the exhibition, “in the creatures, instruments and signs constructing his work, there is a mythical, ancestral air, a taste—acidic and rough, like old iron—of the historical trace, of a past time: horses (from Troy, or harnessed for medieval jousts), dragons transformed into boars, half-marooned ships, vestments and armor, ghostly architecture… And, nevertheless, despite these past tense, timeless iconographies, his work also stages possible traces from the future, a sort of postindustrial archaeology, and others from infancy. These are ambivalent forms, diametric—perhaps even circular—poles in tension, for a collective past time that is, at once, a personal future.”

The exhibitionMascaró at Silos, a majority of which was created especially for this occasion, offers a total of eleven sculptures with different formats and materials, and four drawings. The exhibition catalogue contains an introductory essay by curator Francisco Carpio, as well as his conversation with Xavier Mascaró.

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Xavier Mascaro
Mascaro at Silos
Kurator: Francisco Carpio