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Juan Uslé at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

A major exhibition of the work of the internationally-acclaimed Spanish painter Juan Uslé opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday 8 September 2004. Juan Uslé: Open Rooms, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Ireland, comprises some 33 abstract paintings dating from the early 1990s to his most recent works. Although influenced by ideas ranging from philosophy to multiculturalism, Uslé’s work is not in any way representational, rather it seeks to convey his personal vision of the world, which is poetic rather than narrative.

The works in Open Rooms are grouped in five categories and all date from the period after 1987, when Uslé left Spain for New York. This move lead of a marked change in his work, away from the calming browns, blacks and blues of his native Cantabria to a more varied, contrasting palate, reflecting the fleeting sensory impressions and intense visual stimulation of a vibrant, ever-changing city.

The Soñé que Revelabas (meaning I dreamt you were revealed) series comprises large dark canvases – deep, pulsating spaces built up from luminous horizontal stripes, which seem to register the vital pulse of the artist, as it might appear on a cardiac monitoring machine. The Eolo (“el otro orden” or “another order”) works, by contrast, contain much lighter shades, often with large white spaces and simple playful forms in the style of Joan Miró as in Mosqueteros, o mira cómo me mira Miró desde la ventana que mira a su jardin, 1995 (Musketeers, or look at how Miró looks at me from the window that looks out onto his garden).

Rizomas includes some of Uslé’s most complex compositions, with a layering of line and colour creating rhythmic, dynamic spaces which celebrate the sensory possibilities of painting. They also reveal the thought processes behind the works, while at the same time pointing to the complex history of painting. The In Urbania paintings are based on the horizontal and vertical structures of an urban landscape and also, the movement of light and form. Their tones of red, white and blue call to mind the flag, while their geometric structures, referencing freeway interchanges and subway lines, underline their urban inspiration.

The rich variety of Uslé work is evident in Celibataires (singles). Although identical in size, this series can be seen almost as an exercise in the varied styles which are such a defining feature of his work. The Duchampian title emphasises further the individuality of each work.

Commenting on Uslé’s work, the curator of the exhibition IMMA Director Enrique Juncosa said: “His work depicts the history of painting, with a complete awareness of its linguistic splendour . . . But it also expresses a vision of the world which moves and affects us, exploiting the power of metaphors and symbols which derives from the assimilation of new ideas and of a world which has changed externally, above all, with the extensive use of new technologies.”

Born in Santander in 1954, Juan Uslé began painting in the early 1980s. Since then his work has been presented internationally in many important museum and gallery exhibitions, including at the MACBA, Barcelona, the Saatchi Gallery, London, the Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna, and at Documenta IX, Kassel, Germany.

Juan Uslé discusses his work in conversation with Enrique Juncosa, on Tuesday 7 September at 5.00pm, in the Lecture Room at IMMA. Booking is essential as space is limited. All talks and lectures are free and open to the public.

Juan Uslé: Open Rooms was first shown at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (MNCARS), Madrid. It has travelled to Fundación Marcelino Botín, Santander, Spain, and Stedelijk Museum Voor Actuele Kunst, (S.M.A.K.), Gent, Belgium. The exhibition is supported by the Directorate General for Cultural and Scientific Relations of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, along with the State Corporation for Cultural Action Abroad (SEACEX) and MNCARS. The opening event at IMMA is supported by the Instituto Cervantes, Dublin.

A fully-illustrated catalogue, with essays by Enrique Juncosa, Jan Hoet and David Carrier, writers, and Eva Wittocx, Co-Ordinator of Exhibitions, S.M.A.K., accompanies the exhibition.

Admission is free.

Juan Uslé: Open Rooms continues until 3 January 2005.

Opening Hours:

Tue – Sat 10.00am – 5.30pm Sun and Bank Holidays 12 noon – 5.30pm 28- 31 December, 1 January

Mondays, 24 – 27 December Closed

For further information and colour and black and white images please contact Monica Cullinane or Patrice Molloy at Tel : + 353 1 612 9900, Fax : +353 1 612 9999, email : [email protected]

6 August 2004