Alicante, 23 January 2017
Translated by María Navarro Martínez
"Arcadi Blasco. Art, arquitectura i memòria (1954-1974)" is the title of the exhibition of works by this artist born in the town of Muchamiel. It will be displayed from 27 January to 21 May at Cub exhibition room in the University of Alicante Museum.
The exhibition is curated by José Piqueras and aims to introduce and promote the artistic work that young Blasco conducted in a series of temples and civil buildings in collaboration with several architects of the time (1954-1974). This means that we will get to know Arcadio the way he was before becoming known by his stained glasses, mosaics and ceramic murals. As the curator himself said, in the exhibition Arcadio is shown as "an artist for architects and not as an artist for private clients".
The exhibition is composed of fifty pieces among which we can find preparatory drawings, miniature prototypes and coating plates. All of them are original works and they are organised in fifty panels divided in four sections. First of all, visitors take an introductory walk through an interesting and heterogeneous set of churches, from Tangier to Badajoz. They will see how contemporary sacred art (which is typical of the modernising tendencies supported by the Catholic Church in Europe and Spain) brought avant-garde art into a new kind of architecture thanks to young artists who surprised everybody with a breeze of fresh air. Nonetheless, this was not always understood by priests or by the faithful.
Second, Arcadio's prolific collaboration with the National Institute of Rural Development and Colonisation is displayed. This is probably the most surprising part of the exhibition because, according to José Piqueras, the vast majority of these pieces had never been displayed before. This collaboration allowed Blasco to work with numerous architects in a total of 24 churches located in Extremadura, Andalusia and Castile-La Mancha for slightly over a decade.
The third section focuses on the fruitful relationship between Blasco and Luis Cubillo, which is made patent in several churches in Madrid such as "Nuestra Señora del Tránsito" and "San Fernando", as well as in the "Mater Dei" seminary in Castellón. Although the norm in new temple construction was the subordination of the artist to the architect, Cubillo and Blasco worked in a completely different way, for they honoured each other with absolute freedom and mutual understanding. Despite their religious and political differences, they both shared an avant-garde vision of their professions.
Last, there is a section dedicated to Blasco's participation in civil projects connected with the incipient economic development that started at the end of the 1950s. Some of these pieces are murals in new housings, all kinds of ceramic facing in buildings and in official and schools, stained glasses for companies, and even designs used to represent Spain in events abroad. Nevertheless, some of these pieces have not been preserved or need to be restored.
Curator José Piqueras explains that "it has been quite difficult, largely due to the lack of documentation, which at times has hindered the identification, location and safe attribution of some works". He also adds: "Definitely, Arcadio worked a lot during those years and maybe it is for that very reason that he did not have time to write down or leave any graphic proof or documents about everything he had done". In the late 1980s, Arcadio went back to his previous works. He photographed the humble churches of the National Institute of Rural Development and Colonisation, and little by little, he got rid of his ideological reticence towards the jobs' nature –religious art with fixed iconography– in the context of Spanish Catholicism.
Under the direction of José Piqueras and with the aim of completing the exhibition, the Audiovisual Studio of the University of Alicante General Foundation carried out a thorough work of investigation, shot and edited three videos (by Mariló Berenguer) and took photographs (by Roberto Ruiz) to document all sections of the exhibition. This graphic documentation work started in 2014.
Piqueras has highlighted the fact that this "would not have been possible without the great MUA team, the special collaboration of Sara Blasco and Luis Cubillo, Mariló Berenguer and teachers Jesús García Herrero, Miguel Centellas and Moisés Bazán".
In the catalogue you can see the illustrated texts of "Arcadio Blasco y la integración de las artes" by José Piqueras Moreno, "La obra de Arcadio Blasco en las iglesias del Instituto Nacional de Colonización (1954-1965)" by Miguel Centellas Soler and Moisés Bazán de Huerta, "Arquitecto, Luis Cubillo. Arcadio Blasco, artesano" by Jesús García Herrero and "Arcadio Blasco. Obra civil (1956-1974)" by José Piqueras Moreno.
Educational workshops and complementary activities
The University of Alicante Museum has also organised a series of activities which revolve around the exhibition. Adapted guided tours will be offered, practical workshops will be taught at MUA's Educational Area, and a lecture programme related to the three pillars of Arcadio's exhibition (Art, Architecture and Memory) will be offered. Speakers will be Miguel Centellas (architecture lecturer at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena), Moisés Bazán (Art History lecturer at the University of Extremadura), Jesús García Herrero (Architecture lecturer at the Polytechnic University of Madrid), Andrés Martínez Medina (Architecture lecturer at the University of Alicante) and José Piqueras (Art lecturer at the University of Alicante). The lectures will take place between February and May 2017, in cooperation with the Art Department of Juan Gil-Albert Culture Institute, the Alicante Museum of Contemporary Art (MACA) and the Alicante Architects Association. The final programme will be confirmed in the following days. Lectures will be given at the MUA and the MACA.
In April 2014, a year after the death of Arcadi Blasco (1928-2013), the University of Alicante Museum published “Arcadi Blasco en l’horitzó de la memòria”, which included several texts written by experts and friends as a tribute to the Muchamiel-born artist. Arcadi always had a close relationship with the University of Alicante: he did part of his work, such as the sculpture "Diálogos" (1992), on campus. He also did a great work as a member of the University of Alicante Museum Board. Besides, he donated some of his works to MUA's contemporary art collection and took part in different MUA projects and activities.
In 2005, the University of Alicante awarded him with Maisonnave Prize, and at the end of 2008, the University of Alicante Museum held a major anthological exhibition called “Arcadio Blasco. Narrador de objetos”. In the first few months of 2013 several activities were organised, including the exhibition "Arcadi Blasco: relats de línies i fang" and some educational workshops. One of them was held in cooperation with the Alicante School of Art and Design (EASDA) and produced the ceramic sculpture "Homenatge a Arcadi Blasco", which can already be seen on campus. Among the activities, there was also a lecture cycle entitled "about Arcadi Blasco" and a panel discussion on "Arcadi Blasco and Education". Last but not least, the Blasco family authorised the University of Alicante Museum to catalogue, store and preserve Arcadi's documents, as well as his cultural and artistic legacy, a process in which they took an active part. All of it was done under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President for Culture, Sports and Languages.
More news about Arcadi Blasco’s activities at the University of Alicante:
Tribute to Arcadi Blasco one year after his death (9 April 2014)
"A propósito de Arcadi Blasco" lectures (7-8 May 2013)
World Poetry Day and an homage to Arcadi Blasco (March 2013)
MUA holds Arcadi Blasco's "Relats de Línies i Fang" exhibition (22 February 2013)
"Arcadi Blasco" workshop at the MUA (academic year 2012/2013)
Exhibition "Arcadi Blasco, narrador de objetos" (28 November 2008)
Arcadi Blasco gets 4th Maisonnave Prize (24 November 2005).
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