jueves, 14 de abril de 2016

Translation of Graciela Garcia article "Jose Manuel Egea. To Remain 'Black' Forever"


José Manuel Egea. To Remain ‘Black’ Forever
By Graciela García Muñoz*

Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Abstract: Since he was ten years old José Manuel Egea (Madrid, 1988) has been fascinated by the myth of the Werewolf and particularly about the transformation of man into beast. Egea’s art goes over this myth and focuses on metamorphosis of the human being into a terrible and powerful creature. Though he began to paint and draw very young, José Manuel Egea has developed most of his work in the workshops of the Debajo del Sombrero Collective that welcome him since 2010. His work ranges from the drawing and transforming magazines to sculpture, dolls and masks production and performance.
Keywords: Werewolf, Outsider Art, Manuel Egea, Debajo del Sombrero Collective, Art and Developmental Disabilities.

Illustrations 1 and 2: Egea’s artwork from 2012 and 2013.

Since he was ten years old, José Manuel Egea (Madrid, 1988) has been fascinated by the Werewolf myth, particularly by the transformation phase from man into beast, the step from light to dark, from human being to powerful and dreadful creature.
Even though he began painting and drawing very young, José Manuel has developed most of his practice in the workshops of the Debajo del Sombrero Collective, who have welcomed him every week since 2010. His artwork encompasses drawing and transforming magazines, to doll and mask making, passing through sculpture and performance.

The 'wolf-ness' in Egea's artwork

The fable of the man who transforms into a wolf is the root of Egea's practice, and like it, he also joins the performative character of the myth. One of his lines of work consists on disturbing photographs. He tears them from magazines and scratches them with a pen until the portrayed person is buried under the black of the ink, making them disappear by hiding the shape we see, to make way for the monster.

Illustrations 3 and 4: Egea’s artwork, 2015.

When looking at these images close up, we understand that the direction and intensity of pen strokes are essential to cause the beast to emerge. Egea does not remain satisfied with just covering the image in black. It is more about invoking the animal that throbs inside the portrayed, and that struggles to get out. The strokes go in the direction in which hairs spring from the face. It is scratched with extremely force, leaving a mark on the tortured paper. This act transcends the paper’s smoothness and transforms it too.

For Egea it is not difficult to connect with the 'wolf-ness' -as he calls it- that dwells under the appearance of people. He knows it well because of his own flare-ups, during which is manifested his need of howling to calm down himself, and his passion for tearing all sorts of things, especially his own clothes.

Illustration 5: Egea’s artwork, 2015.

His family tells that, at home, he has the habit of ripping papers, preferably from magazines, but also books -especially art books. So, they must hide them to avoid him cutting them or tearing off the covers. His family mitigates this drive by arranging the books with the spines inwards so that the covers are not visible. He also rips paintings and photos. Some of these are still hanging on the wall with the whole canvas made into pieces and falling forward, with a corresponding bewilderment for people visiting.

Illustration 6. Egea’s artwork, 2013.

The aesthetic/visual imaginary of Egea

Egea's imaginary is nourished by figures and physical features associated to the universe of the Werewolf, influenced by the language of Marvel comics but, above all, emerging as a universe of its own: singular and consistent.
The claws are a pointed stylization of a hand, in which he usually marks the joint on each finger with a circle.

Illustrations 7 and 8. Egea’s artwork, 2013
The ears, also pointed, sometimes remind us more of the ears of a rabbit, than those of a wolf, as if the most important thing in them were to point out the astounding growth. He often empties, blackens or pierces the eyes in the images of magazines. It is rare for him not to work on the eyes, as a way to make 'the human' disappear.

Illustrations 9 and 10. Egea’s artwork 2015
Egea depicts the full moon, associated in the legend with the transformation from man into wolf, as a sort of pomegranate that, in turn, fruitfully contains other circles.

Illustrations 11 and 12. Egea’s artwork from 2015 and 2011.

Again, something very present in his work is the representation of the snout and the wolf's jaws, or as he says the 'nose up here', also called the 'macho factor' - which we do not know really well what he means-. The snout can be seen drawn on the photocopy of a photograph, in which he appears next to some children. The 'moon-grenade' is on the top left [of the same image].

Illustration 13. Modification of a photocopied photo.

There are also a series of words or phrases that both attract him and that also mysteriously repeat while drawing: androgynous, birth, transformation, 'machistar', ‘Fantariló’, ‘Guéndido’, I would like to see my father born, sacristy, born naked, umbilical cord, ‘Aldano Pegalobeces’, the fool of the beach, passing on the 'wolfness' to a teenager that then becomes half man half wolf, sleeping with him, turning into black, hypertrichosis, chrysalis, to remain black forever, the hominids - apparently apes give him a lot of fear.

Illustrations 14 and 15. Egea’s artwork from 2013 and 2015

Recent interests

In his recent works he is very interested in sticks. He picks them up from the street or/and rips them from the trees. He associates them with the death of the werewolf, which is an interesting confusion -traditionally you can only kill a werewolf with a silver bullet, although it is more organic and powerful the image of the stake- commonly associated with death of the vampires. This fusion or confusion between legendary beings is not nonsensical. Both are considered the two most universal myths that exist. Both are related to the man-beast that is indestructible by conventional means, and the two are extremely strong, clever and fast.

 Illustration 16. Egea’s artwork 2015.

An archetype: The Stren
The other legendary being that attracts to Egea, although to a lesser extent than the Werewolf, is the Marvel superhero Hulk, 'la Masa', whose main attribute is the colossal power of his huge body and who Egea likes to imitate.

Illustration 18 José Manuel Egea portrait. ©Teresa Isasi.

José Manuel Egea seems to feel a special attraction for strength, along with, as we have been saying, a singular ability to bring out the beast that dwells beneath the appearance, to reveal the powerful, the beast, and the black. There is a Tarot card, arcana number XI "Strength", that reflects the symbolic ability of Egea's creations. The Arcanum XI is represented in the Tarot of Marseilles as a woman who opens the jaws of a lion. She opens them with no effort, in spite of its name, because above all this card symbolizes a passage; an opening to the knowledge of the unconscious. It invites us to overcome the mask to know the animal that dwells in us, and turns it into power. This archetypal strength, understood not only as physical but also as mental power, seems to be the engine and aesthetic search of José Manuel Egea.

Graciela Garcia, Madrid 2015.
Translation: Consuelo Rosa Servan

Sources of images and information:

The information and anecdotes about Jose Manuel Egea come from Luis Sáez, Gemma Calleja and Lola Barrera Lemus from Colectivo Debajo del Sombrero as well as from Mª Angeles Laura Moreno Moreno, artist’s mum.
Colectivo Debajo del Sombrero has facilitated all the images, being the portrait ones from photographer © Teresa Isasi.
Full article in the Bric-à-Brac magazine

Tags: Art Brut Spain, outsider Art, Art and Autism, Colectivo Debajo del Sombrero, Jose Manuel Ege

Graciela Garcia*
She works as representing Christian Berst Gallery and the Art Brut Foundation Project, carrying out research, curating and coordinating publications. She has published the book 'Outsider Art: The Creative Drive Unmasked' (2015), as well as articles in various specialized media such as Obsservatorio Outsider Art, Art Therapy - Papers of art therapy and artistic education for social inclusion, Sans Soleis- Studies about image or Seminter. She also gives conferences and workshops in forums such as the UCM, the UAM, the Carlos III University, the Sant Boi Mental Health and Culture Conference, the AlRaso Grant of the UGR, or Arte Madrid (Fundación FIART).
She maintains a personal blog dedicated to news and reflections on outsider art, ' el Hombre Jazmin', and she also is the director of Bric-à-Brac, a magazine created for reflection on topics such as self-taught art, outsider art, art Brut, and in general all kinds of creative manifestations that occur outside of hegemonic art

martes, 16 de febrero de 2016


1- Tabacalera
2- Tabacalera´s catacombs
3-Tuesdays with Debajo del Sombrero

La Tabacalera es un centro social auto gestionado que surgió en Madrid durante la época Zapatero. El Ministerio de Cultura cedió el antiguo edificio del monopolio estatal del tabaco para crear un espacio en el que dar cabida a manifestaciones culturales de carácter colectivo. De esa manera se autorizaba el uso publico por parte de colectivos y asociaciones, se evitaba así la temida ocupación, y sin gastar un duro de las arcas del ministerio que ya por aquel entonces comenzaba a hacer frente a la crisis.  En la Tabacalera se puede encontrar teatro, música, danza, pintura, conferencias, reuniones, audiovisuales, talleres, eventos, intervenciones en el barrio…destacando el carácter colectivo, público y de transformación social que se pretende en todas sus actividades.

The Tabacalera is a self-organized social centre that emerged in Madrid during the Zapatero time. The Ministry of Culture gave up the huge old tobacco building to create a space accommodating cultural manifestations of a collective nature. In this way, it was authorized to be used by the public, by groups and associations. This was a way to save the building and avoid local conflict over what became a legal squat, while also avoiding spending from a government already beginning to deal with the economic crisis. In Tabacalera you can find theatre, music, dance, painting, conferences, meetings, audiovisuals, workshops, events and interventions in the neighbourhood ... highlighting the collective, public and social transformation intended by all its activities.

El patio trasero del edificio con pequeñas zonas de huerta, grafitis y  árboles, es el sitio perfecto para el almuerzo, a la sombra por supuesto. Desde 2007 la Tabacalera ha ido creciendo dentro del barrio, atrayendo todo tipo de actividades y eventos en los que colectivos, asociaciones o comunidades están directamente involucrados. De hecho, a pesar de las grandes dimensiones de los diferentes espacios, siempre se ve actividad. Es un espacio vivo y abierto a todos.

The backyard of the building has small orchard areas, graffiti and trees.

It is the perfect spot for lunch... in the shade, of course. Since 2007 the Tabacalera has been growing attracting all kinds of activities and events from groups, associations or communities, directly involved with its neighborhood and artistic community. In fact, in spite of the large dimensions of the different rooms, you always have a sense of human scale activity going on. It is a living space open to all.

2- Tabacalera´s catacombs

El sótano del edificio son corredores llenos de antiguos almacenes, ahora convertidos en espacios de ensayo y reunión. La paredes de este laberinto se han ido cubriendo con murales y grafitis. Todo es susceptible de ser cubierto con pintura y el propio espacio invita a ello, literalmente te puedes perder aquí dentro.

The building basement was home to the old warehouses, now converted into rehearsal and meeting spaces. The walls of this maze have been covered with murals and graffiti. Everything is available to be painted and the space itself invites this.  Be careful if you decide to walk there, because you can literally get lost inside.


3-Tuesdays with Debajo del Sombrero

Debajo del Sombrero está realizando en esta zona talleres de pintura mural con su grupo de los martes. Este día de la semana normalmente la actividad se desarrolla en la Facultad de Bellas Artes en los departamentos  dibujo y pintura, ampliando el programa de el Sombrero en Bellas Artes  en 2012  con este nuevo grupo. Pero, durante las semanas de mi visita este taller se realizo en las instalaciones de Tabacalera. Así se preparaban el espacio para recibir la visita de los centros de Gales e Irlanda, dentro del proyecto de intercambio Expanding Realities con el que el Sombrero lleva colaborando un año.

In this area, Debajo del Sombrero is organizing mural workshops for its Tuesday group. Usually the workshop activity takes place at the Faculty of Fine Arts, in the drawing and painting departments ("The Sombrero at Fine Arts" program was expanded in 2012 with this new group). But, during the weeks of my visit the Tuesday workshops were held at the Tabacalera facility, where they were also preparing for a visit from Arts Centres in Wales and Ireland. This visit is within the "Expanding Realities" exchange project with which the Sombrero has been collaborating for more than a year.

De los artistas del sombrero que vi trabajando en este espacio me impresiono mucho el trabajo de Miguel Angel. Creo que la técnica del mural le sienta muy bien a sus mujeres, porque añade capas transparentes y un halo de misterio.

Of the artists from Debajo del Sombrero I saw working in this space, I was very impressed by the work of Miguel Angel. I thought the mural technique suited his ´women´ very well, because it adds transparent layers and a halo of mystery to them.

El grupo, con Lola y Luis, esperando a la salida de Tabacalera a sus familiares. Un banquito a la sombra es esencial porque en mayo (que es cuando se realiza esta visita) en Madrid el calorcito ya aprieta.

After the Tabacalera workshop, the group, with Lola and Luis, waited for their relatives.
A bench in the shade is essential in May in Madrid as the heat is already fierce.

domingo, 17 de enero de 2016

DEBAJO DEL SOMBRERO: En la Casa Encendida/ The Hat at Home in the Starlit House

1-the Startlit House/la Casa Encendida
2-el Sombrero en la Casa/ the Hat at Home
3-workshop with Libres para Siempre(Free Forever)
4-Jaime Vallaure workshop


La Casa Encendida es el centro de obra social de lo que empezó siendo Caja Madrid para pasar a ser Bankia, y que, a pesar de los desmanes y vaivenes economicos del pais (por utilizar un termino suave), ha mantenido una actividad constante y muy interesante desde su apertura en 2002. A menudo ofrece arriesgadas exposiciones, talleres y eventos culturales de  factura diversa.
Alli, Debajo del Sombrero se instala los viernes con un taller de creacion impartido por artistas de  reconocida trayectoria.

La Casa Encendida (the Startlit House) is a famous poem by Luis Rosales. It is also the name of the social and cultural center of what was Caja Madrid and is now Bankia - which, despite the excesses and economic ups and downs of the country (to put it mildly), has maintained a constant and interesting level of activity since its opening in 2002. 
It often offers risky exhibitions, workshops and cultural events and has become where ´Debajo del Sombrero´ has settled on Fridays, with a creative workshop taught by well known artists.

2-the Hat at Home/el Sombrero en la Casa

El Sombrero en la Casa es un programa creado por Debajo del Sombrero en 2008. Con él se propone desarrollar la capacidad artística de sus participantes, personas con discapacidad intelectual, a través de talleres dirigidos  por artistas invitados que comparten su experiencia y proceso de trabajo. Estos se realizan cada viernes, y se programan con la duración de un curso académico. Algunos de los artistas que han colaborado en pasadas ediciones son Alvaro Matximbarrena, Juan Ugalde, Dionisio Cañas, Jaime Vallaure, entre otros.

 El Sombrero en la Casa (the Hat at Home) is an ongoing program created by Debajo del Sombrero in 2008. On it, the ontention is to develop the artistic skills of its participants  (people with developmental disabilities ) through workshops led by invited artists who share their experience and working process. This workshop takes place every Friday, and is programmed for the duration of one academic year.  Some of the artists who have contributed are Alvaro Matximbarrena, Juan Ugalde, Dionisio Cañas and Jaime Vallaure among others.

Durante mi visita a Debajo del Sombrero, la Casa Encendida tenía en programa una curiosa e inspiradora exposición: ARSTRONOMY, que reflexionaba sobre el impacto que los viajes espaciales y la ciencia ficción han tenido en el arte contemporáneo.
Como primera actividad de ese viernes, fuimos a recorrerla.

During my visit to Debajo del Sombrero in Madrid, the Startlit House were running an unusual and inspiring exhibition: ARSTRONOMY, reflecting on the impact that space travel and science fiction have made on contemporary art.
As a first activity of the day, the whole group went to visit it.

La muestra  estaba comisariada por Danielle Tilkin, y en ella se abordaba el cosmos desde distintos aspectos a través de fotografías, vídeos, pinturas y esculturas de varias generaciones de creadores del s.XX 

The exhibition, curated by Danielle Tilkin, addresses the cosmos from different aspects through the photographs, videos, paintings and sculptures of several generations of 20th Century artists.

3-whorshop with Libres para Siempre (Free Forever)

Libres Para Siempre es un colectivo de artistas madrileños fundado en el 89. Se trata de un grupo que ha trabajado en multitud de medios expresivos (pintura, fotografía, performance, animación digital, vídeo, realidad virtual, Net Art...) y que se situa  de lleno en la práctica colectiva del arte, manteniendo coherencia formal y simbólica. En la actualidad Libres para Siempre lo forman Beatriz Alegre, Almudena Baeza, Miguel Angel Martin, Álvaro Monge, Ana Parga y Juan Jarén.

Libres para Siempre (Free Forever) is an art collective founded in Madrid in 1989. They work as a  group in a variety of expressive mediums (painting, photography, performance, digital animation, video, virtual reality, Net Art ...) and under their own set of premises on the collective practice of art, maintaining a formal and symbolic consistency. Today, of the original forming members remain: Beatriz Alegre, Almudena Baeza, Miguel Angel Martin, Alvaro Monge, Ana Parga and Juan Jarén.

El  taller dirigido por ´Libres Para Siempre´ ahondaba en esa idea  de autoría colectiva y modos de producción. Los dibujos estaban dispuestos sobre la mesa de modo  que cada participante pudiera intervenir en aquellos que le llamaran a ello. Se estableció una especie de cadena e intercambio de formas de hacer sobre un mismo soporte. El resultado es una mezcla de lenguajes que deviene en lenguaje propio. 

This workshop led by ' Free Forever ', deepened the ideas of collective authorship and different production methods. Drawings were placed on tables so that each participant could paint on those that drew their attention. A sort of chain or exchange of ways to work was established. The result is a mixture of languages that becomes a language itself.

Existen muchas y variadas maneras de abordar el trabajo en equipo. A algunos les resulta natural integrarse en la masa del grupo, mientras que para otros, como Miguel, mantener su individualidad les es fundamental.

There are many different ways to tackle teamwork. Some people can integrate themselves naturally into the mass of the group, while for others, like Miguel, it is fundamental to maintain their individuality.

4- Jaime Vallaure workshop
Jaime Vallaure fue uno de los artistas invitados durante el curso 2014/2015. Él es artista conceptual y performatico, mitad de Los Torreznos   y sobre todo espiritu inquieto. El taller que planteaba tiene sus raices en un proyecto que realizó en 2011, en una casa de acogida del barrio de Carabanchel, sobre las posibilidades del dibujo con carboncillo, y más concretamente del retrato . Este proyecto tuvo por nombre Primitivo pero Moderno y además de una exposicion en la casa donde tuvo lugar el taller, dio como resultado la colaboracion de Jaime con Fernando Ventura y un articulo publicado por la editorial Sans Soleil y la revista de arte outsider BricBrac

Jaime Vallaure was one of the guest artists during the 2014/15 course. He is both a conceptual and performance artist, one half of ´ The Torreznos´ group and a particularly restless spirit. The workshop he led has its roots in a project carried out in 2011 in a care home in the neighborhood of Carabanchel where he explored the possibilities of drawing with charcoal, and more specifically portrait making. The project ´ Primitive but Modern ´ was also an exhibition in the house where the workshop was held. This also resulted in the collaboration of Jaime with Fernando Ventura and an article published by Sans Soleil and BricBrac ( an outsider art magazine ) For the moment there is no English translation. What a shame !

En el taller, Vallaure planteó experimentar con el retrato, lo que nos hace reconocer ciertos elementos e integrarlos para formar un rostro: "El retrato y autorretrato pone en funcionamiento uno de los mecanismos visuales más elementales y primarios: enfrentarse al propio rostro y al rostro ajeno. El trabajo del yo y del tu. Entender, estudiar y asumir los propios rasgos es un primer grado de reconocimiento de una situación compleja de aceptar. Un punto de partida. Un anclaje" (Primitivo pero Moderno, Revista Sans Solei, Estudios de la imagen nº4, 2012, pp. 354)
  Esto le llevo a jugar con la  identidad, utilizando postizos (gorras, pelucas, gafas) para cambiar los rasgos que hacen reconocible a una persona y evidenciar lo relativa que puede ser la percepción.
At the Starlit House workshop, Vallaure experimented with portraiture again and how this makes us recognize certain elements and integrate them to form a face: "The portrait and self-portrait operated one of the most basic and primary visual mechanisms: Addressing our own face and the face alien to us. The work of self and you. Understanding, studying and assumiing the features themselves is a primary point of recognition and acceptance of a complex situation. A starting point. An anchor. " (Primitivo but Modern, Sans Soleil Magazine, Studies of  the image 4, 2012, pp. 354 )  
This led him to play with identity, using disguises (hats, wigs, glasses) to change the traits that make a person recognizable and evidence on how relative that perception can be.

Otra de las estrategias que utilizó esta también recogida en su articulo:
"Relación entre las partes: Básicamente un rostro puede ser entendido como una
configuración formal de pocos elementos cuya combinatoria crea una unidad. El gran
problema inicial es que se tiende a ver precisamente así: una boca, una nariz, dos ojos,
dos cejas, dos orejas, el pelo, el cuello y los hombros. Entidades independientes que se
relacionan entre si. Sin entrar en más detalles, lo que ve el ojo no es esto.
 El ojo percibe manchas y nuestra mente crea a partir de esa información unidades supuestamente independientes. Para intentar romper este mecanismo tan afianzado en el cerebro se pone en marcha un método basado en la redundancia: dibujar cada elemento por separado y unirlos todos al final. Crear un banco de ojos, otro de narices, otro de bocas , luego elegir y cerrar formalmente el dibujo en base a la combinatoria resultante." (Primitivo pero Moderno, Revista Sans Solei, Estudios de la imagen nº4, 2012, pp. 355-56)

Another strategy he used is also included in his article:"Relationship between the parts: Basically a face can be understood as a formal configuration of few elements that when combined, creates a unit. The great initial problem is that it tends to do precisely that: a mouth, a nose, two eyes, two eyebrows, two ears, hair, neck and shoulders. Independent entities that interrelate. Without going into details, what meets the eye is not this. The eye perceives shapes and from that information, the mind creates allegedly independent units. To try to break this mechanism, so entrenched in the brain, sets up a method based on redundancy: paint each element separately and merge them all in the end. Create a bank of eyes, of noses and another of mouths, then choose and formally ´close´ the drawing based on the resulting combination. "
(Primitivo but Modern, Sans Soleil Magazine, Studies of the image No.4, 2012,
pp. 355- 56)

 The workshop was full of mouths, noses, massive noses, eyes, a smile with teeth, ears, tiny ears and other things not so recognizable. Features allowing infinite combinations.

Y el taller se lleno de bocas, narices, narizotas, ojos, alguna sonrisa con dientes, orejitas, y otras cosas no tan reconocibles. Rasgos que admitían infinitas combinaciones.

"El conjunto son una serie de collages donde los arquetipos iniciales son puestos a
prueba y el resultante final adquiere una fuerza y una personalidad propias, ajenas ya a
esa manera de entender lo visible". (Primitivo pero Moderno, Revista Sans Solei, Estudios de la imagen nº4, 2012, pp. 356)
" The outcome is a series of collages where initial archetypes are tested and the final result acquires a force and personality all of its own, far from the usual way of understanding the visible. " (Primitivo but Modern, Sans Soleil Magazine, Studies of the image No.4, 2012, pp. 356)