FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Colnaghi and Ben Brown Fine Arts present Textura, an exhibition celebrating texture and materiality in art which brings together paintings and sculptures from the ancient and modern worlds. Presenting rediscovered and rarely seen works by Old Masters including Luca Giordano, El Greco and Pedro de Mena, the exhibition will show classical works together with modern masterpieces by two artists strongly influenced by texture, religion and historic art: Antoni Tàpies and Miquel Barceló. The exhibition will run from 3 to 10 May at Colnaghi's recently opened townhouse space at 38 East 70th Street in New York.
A leading highlight of the exhibition is Saint Francis of Assisi, an important polychrome sculpture by Pedro de Mena (1628-1688), one of the most celebrated sculptors of the Spanish Golden Age. An exceptional wood carver and painter, and a multimedia artist of his time, Pedro de Mena would often enhance his sculptures with glass eyes, human hair and real materials including rope, creating striking and hyper-realistic devotional figures. The appearance of this sculpture coincides with the exhibition Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body (1300-Now) at the Met Breuer until 22 July which includes the artist's Ecce Homo, circa 1674-85, acquired by the Metropolitan Museum via Colnaghi, as well as four other important polychrome sculptures recently sold by the gallery*.
The exhibition will also include a rarely-seen depiction of Saint Francis by Doménikos Theotokópoulos, known as El Greco (1541-1614). The Stigmatisation of Saint Francis is a powerful and dramatic composition which was first published in 1908, and last seen in public in 1999 at the major show on the artist held at Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. An exciting rediscovery is Mars, a striking composition from the early career of Luca Giordano (1634-1705), and a unique subject in the artist's opus boasting bold depictions of flesh, feathers and glistening armour.
The Old Master paintings and sculptures will be shown with modern works by two internationally celebrated Spanish artists: Antoni Tàpies (1923-2012) and Miquel Barceló (b.1957). Antoni Tàpies is best known for his mixed media works, and particularly his 'matter paintings' which explored the concept of the 'void', and which often include materials like marble dust, sand and resin. One of his earliest collages consisted of a cross made from paper which had been torn out of the obituary page in a Catholic journal (Creu de paper de diari, 1946-47, now in the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona). The cross was a recurrent symbol throughout his work, representing a variety of meanings: the marking of a spot, a sign of existence, a signature using the first letter of his surname, and of course, the crucifix. Tàpies was one of 24 of the world's leading artists invited to create a work in response to the Old Masters for Encounters: New Art from Old at the National Gallery, London, in 2000. Works in this exhibition include Cross on Brown, a large mixed media painting from 1960; Painting No. LXXXIV, a composition from 1958 with mixed media on canvas mounted on wood; and Tot Marró Amb Relleu, a mixed media painting from 1961 featuring a prominent cross motif.
Miquel Barceló is known for his experimental approach to painting and sculpture, and for producing heavily textured works using a variety of mediums. He holds a great interest in the history of art and has referenced influences including Diego Velázquez, Tintoretto and Rembrandt, as well as 17th-century Spanish still life painting. In 2004, Barceló's watercolours illustrating Dante's Divine Comedy were shown at the Museé du Louvre in Paris, making him the youngest artist ever exhibited at the museum. In 2007, he completed a commission for the cathedral in Palma de Mallorca where, over a period of six years, he covered the Santísimo chapel with elaborate terracotta sculptures depicting the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. Works in the exhibition include 3 Tranches de Melon, a still life from 1998 in mixed media on canvas (illustrated above); Antes del Lance (El Planeta de los Toros), a mixed media painting from the bullfight series executed in 2017; and Pinocchio Mort, 1998, a bronze sculpture of a skull, complete with extended nose, echoing the Vanitas theme of 17th-century Spain.