Manuel Calvo early geometric art revolutionized the art scene of the late 50s. He held his first solo exhibition in 1958, at age twenty four, at Alfil Gallery in Madrid, Spain. Calvo’s “hard-edge” painting rejected the subjective emphasis of the prevalling Abstract Expressionism.
Portrait photography by BARTE.
While serving in the Spanish air force, 1954, Manuel Calvo had a revelation when first flying a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star, a jet trainer aircraft. “It was an intense expedience; light flashes, the shear speed, a strange quiet calm, the landscape shapes, the clouds… When I landed it all was unfamiliar and imperfect. I couldn’t speak for the entire day. Later on that experience shuttled down and suddenly it all made sense… I felt the need to translate that experience onto images.”
The common denominator in his early work was the use of black and white as a compositional element, and the structure overpowering color or gesture. Calvo associated himself with “hard-edge” painting rejecting the subjective, gestural emphasis of Abstract Expressionism in favor of sharply defined black and white or color areas.
In 1964 Manuel Calvo travels to Brazil where his success as contemporary artist takes to new heights. His work is shown at Rio de Janeiro Modern Art Museum, Sao Paulo Contemporary Art Museum, Belo Horizonte Modern Art Museum, Bahia Modern Art Museum and Porto Alegre Comtemporary Art Museum.
Calvo’s different interests took his art through diverse paths. Geometric art, figurative works of marked social and political content or erotic themes, always experimenting with different media; drawings, paintings and sculptures. During the 60s and 70s, Calvo explored the integration of artistic practices that relate to color, space and movement; architecture, ballet, film, music, performing arts, design or layout.
By 1966 his series Little Men: the land belongs to he who works it, stars to take shape. But it will be in Lisbon, in the spring of 1977, when these little men took over the city with large formats, buildings wall papered, posters and stickers.
When traveling through Belgium, in 1970, Calvo discovered the Allegory of Fertility by Jacob Jordaens (19 May 1593 – 18 October 1678). A Flemish Baroque artist from the Antwerp school of painting. The sensuality of the piece and its contrast with the Spanish art tradition of that same period sparked him later on (1973) to create a series of drawings and paintings named Fertility of the Allegory.
Calvo’s series of eagles is probably his more political oriented work. A comment on the use of this bird of prey as a power symbol through western history
Manuel Calvo is currently showing at José de la Mano gallery, Madrid, Spain.