Spaniard César Manrique was born 24 April 1919 in Arrecife, a village on the Canary Island of Lanzarote. Manrique was an artist, sculptor, architect and activist and, during the Spanish Civil War, he was a volunteer in the artillery unit on Franco’s side.
Manrique attended the University of La Laguna to study architecture, but after two years he quit his studies. He moved to Madrid in1945 and he received a scholarship for the Art School of San Fernando, where he graduated as a teacher of art and painting. Manrique moved to New York in 1964 and was awarded a grant by Nelson Rockefeller which allowed him to rent his own studio. He painted many works whilst living in New York, which were exhibited in the prestigious “Catherine Viiano”gallery.
Two years later, in 1966, Manrique returned to Lanzarote. His legacy on the island includes the art, culture and tourism centre. He had a major influence on the planning regulations on Lanzarote following his recognition of its potential for tourism and lobbied successfully to encourage the sustainable development of the industry. One aspect of this is the lack of high rise hotels on the island. Those that are there are, generally, in keeping with the use of traditional colours in their exterior decoration.
Manrique tragically died in a car accident at Tahíche, very near the Fundación, his beloved Lanzarote home, in 1992. He was aged 73.
Cesar Manrique’s work was diverse, to say the least, ranging from pencil/ink outline drawings to bright geometric shapes. His ceramics were bright and a little ‘weird’, as were his tiles. Many of his works took on the look and shape of fanciful fish.
When I found I had been given Cesar Manrique to write about in this blog, I had heard his name but knew nothing about the artist, and the more I read about Manrique, the more he reminded me of Picasso who, of course, was also a Spaniard and a contemporary.
Here in our village, we are lucky enough to have the opportunity of classes in Pottery and Ceramics and, in 2019, I attended the classes. I decided to have a go at Abstract forms, rather than the usual thrown pots – which I must admit don’t really appeal to me….too messy! Being a Virgo…I don’t do messy!!! Haha.
I played about with the clay and came up with a design that I was happy with, which is suppose to be a sort of fish! The brief for the Blog was not to copy faithfully a piece of the Artists’ work but to give the impression of one of his works. I was walking through our porch, on the way to my workshop, and noticed the ceramic tile of the Fish, that I had made, hanging on the wall… Wow! A lightbulb moment…. I thought that looks just like something that Manrique may have produced.
I have tried to replicate my Fish tile in fabric. I chose quite dull colours with a Pop of green, which echos the work of a Manrique ‘fish’.
The layers were appliquéd on to a complementary coloured fabric, wadding and a piece of backing fabric, keeping the fmq to just a couple of rows to give depth to the design. I chose a wooden button for the ‘eye’, which has the same colours as the fish.
I hope my Blog has whetted your appetite to search the internet for more of Manriques’ work.