José Gómez Manresa

Born in 1948 in Callosa de Segura, Alicante, lives and works in Spain and France

PLEIN ET VIE – Paris, July 1995

Gómez Manresa’s works challenge conventional theories about abstract art. What can one do after monochromes? The pictorial quest seems to have come to an end, as when writing dimi ni shes into silence. Then suddenly, a new cry is heard a cry all in color,a cry all in cut-outs, a cry which tears the air; an appeal to the future, to life, a cry which affirms that creation is ongoing, everregenerated. Abstraction does not repeat itself in Gómez Manresa’s work. He does not paint like anyone.

He steps out of the canvas, moves around it so that it leaps out of its frame to inhabit the space-turned-object, the window on the wall, the cut-out shadow changing with the light.The play of shadow cre- ated by the painter spills over the space occupied by the picture, splits it in two, adding a mysterious dimension to its color and cut-outs, possibly one of freedom as suggested by the title of the exhibition in 1993: “Enquete de la liberté” (“Investigation into Liberty”).

Using stretcher bars, a canvas’s conventional support as a starting point, and gestures worthy of Sam Francis, Gómez Manresa cuts out, sews, knots, resews, goes right through the can- vas and carves into it. He works in series; we have thus seen canvases hollowed out so that only the stretcher remains, the painting becoming a wall sculpture, its interior filled with string, stars and garlands cut out of the hollowed sur- face.Then canvases are cut out and resewn in a language that is all his own, employing single and multiple repeat motifs. In the series shown at the Découvertes 94 fair in Paris, the canvas was carefully cut out to form a pattern of squares and rectangles, rather like an irregular plaid fabric with superimposed signs.

The sign or signs were surrounded by cutouts. The pattern confers a transparent effect on them; the surrounding stretcher highlights their structure. The shadows are like those cast by a many, windowed tower, a lattice conducive to unexpected interpretations.

Gómez Manresa’s strength lies in his capacity to unite a pictorial quality which puts him on a par with the great abstract painters, with astructural originality that introduces a play between canvas and object, object and canvas. His use of color evokes a world of tenderness and light. His palette runs the gamut between bright sunshine yellows to whites and blacks via the full range of pastels.

The canvas escapes from its square or rectangle in response to the fantasy of its creations. It embraces all possible forms that spring from the imagination. It is woven, rewoven, mixed with paint and emptiness: Gómez Manresa has invented three-dimensional painting, projecting the picture out of the frame and into space. In his new series, the canvas vanishes to make way for linoleum, without denying its essence: the pleasure of color, the beauty of forms, a door open onto the visual fantasies.

Lélia Mordoch