In both her individual pieces and her collaborative work with British artist Arash Moori, Esther Mañas’s work can be placed within the field of installation or the expanded sphere of painting/sculpture. By altering existing spaces through interventions based on dialogue between different media, she questions the limits between reality and fiction and the function of the different environments found in her work.
1. What made you choose art as a profession?
I don’t think I ever made the conscious decision to have a professional career in the plastic arts. However, it’s true that I’m constantly taking the decision to carry out this activity because it gives me a certain freedom of thought and action that I’ve never found anywhere else.
2. How would you define your work?
Broadly speaking, my work can be placed in the expanded sphere of painting and sculpture. I work in my environment gathering images and discarded objects in the urban space and turning them into icons or symbolic, metaphorical forms of certain social aspects. The urban space offers a reflection of our culture and is perfect for finding social, economic and political symbols to describe us. My work could be summed up as a reaction to my environment. This is also true of the work I do in collaboration with the artist Arash Moori, which also includes conceptual references to popular culture in the form of objects and the titles of the works. Space and soundscape also play a key role in these works.
3. What subjects are you interested in?
Urban space as a living organism, and within this I’ve focused on different microcosms, from commercial spaces to the waste they produce. In recent projects, I’ve tried to recycle this waste in visual utopias, in contract to the dystopia they represent.
4. What resources – formal or otherwise – do you use in your work?
The work’s final form and shape is the result of research into the material, which I generally choose for the meaning associated with it and its relationship with the subject in question. I place these objects in processes of dialogue with different media, such as painting, space and sound, and this is how they take shape.
5. What relationship does your work have with reality? What are your raw materials?
I’m interested in creating change or alterations in the perception of reality to position the work on the fine line between reality and fiction.
The immediate environment around me.
6. What, according to you, is the point of art?
To offer people freedom of thought in the face of established, learnt or imposed thought, which could be in poetic, fictional or political forms. I think this is the point of most works.
7. How do you hope the public will receive your work? What audience are you aiming at?
I hope the public interprets it as they see fit; in this way, they can never be wrong. It’s funny that many members of the public – both experts and non-experts – expect someone to offer them an interpretation of a work. You can spend hours talking about a work, and this is always enriching, but trying to define a work in absolute terms will always end in disappointment
I’ve never thought in terms of aiming at a specific audience; I suppose I’m aiming at anyone who’s willing to come to a work with an open mind.
8. What qualifications have you got? What do you value most from your time in education?
I studied Fine Art and have taken part in a number of different plastic-arts and interior-design workshops.
The influence of some teachers and other students.
9. How would you define your current professional situation? And in the future?
Now is a good creative time for me; I’m doing research and have a fair number of projects on the go.
To carry on like this.
10. Many artists say it’s difficult to make a living from their work; how do economic considerations affect you when it comes to work? Do you think this has a bearing on your work?
You can do a lot with very little, but you should always bear in mind artists’ fees, expenses, production, etc. There’s a bottom line you can’t work below.
All the circumstances surrounding a piece have a bearing on it; the space, the time, the fluid or not-so-fluid relationship with the curator, gallery owner, designers and other members of the team who might be involved in the project. So obviously the economic side has a bearing too, but once you’re above the bottom line I spoke about I think it’s about knowing how to make the most of what you’ve got and ensure all the different factors flow in favour of the piece.
11. What do you look for or expect from your relationship with promoters and curators? What advantages and difficulties have you found with these relationships?
Continuity; it’s important they follow the project as it evolves.
In terms of advantages, the visibility the work acquires thanks to their input, and thanks to them I’ve been able to produce technical, spatially complex pieces. In terms of difficulties, the institutional bureaucracy – so far removed from the nature and processes of art.
12. What do you think sets the arts scene in Madrid apart from elsewhere? What would you say are its pluses and minuses?
In recent years there’s been a wealth of new initiatives by artists, curators, independent spaces and galleries, as well as grants and other forms of backing from institutions.
All the above are pluses, but there is a negative side too: the whole Madrid scene is scattered and badly organised and there’s a mistrust of local artists by institutions and galleries and vice versa.
Vive y trabaja en/Lives and works in: Madrid.
Master en Bellas Artes, Universidad de Helsinki.
Licenciatura en Bellas Artes, Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
Titulada en Artes y Oficios, Especialidad Diseño de Interiores, Escuela Oficial de Artes y Oficios de Madrid.
Exposiciones Individuales (Selección)/Selected Solo Exhibitions
El Resto, Galería Arte 21, Madrid. Composition for Five Rooms, Hammarby Artport, Stockholm.*
Uso y Deshecho, La Casa Encendida, Madrid.
Sound Space, KuvataideaKatemia Gallery, Helsinki.*
Follow your Dream, Galería Marina Miranda, Madrid.
Trasladar Espacios, Centro de Arte Joven de la Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid.
Zona Privada, Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo, Cursos de Verano, A Coruña.
Exposiciones Colectivas (Selección)/Selected Group Exhibitions
In de Frende, Goethe-Institut, Madrid.* MS1, Galería MS, Madrid.*
Planes Futuros, Baluarte, Pamplona. Destino Futuro, Real Jardín Botánico, Madrid.
Cream, Site Art Gallery, Liverpool.*
Madrit!, Entresijos y gallinejas, Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, Barcelona.*
La Noche en Blanco, Teatro de Valle-Inclán, Madrid.*
Echo, Dam Stuhltrager Gallery, Brooklyn, New York.*
Generación 2006, La Casa Encendida, Madrid.*
Assume, Holden Gallery, Manchester.*
Greetings, Kaiku Gallery, Helsinki.
Koetilla, Test Space Poetilla, Helsinki. XVII Edición Bienal de Pintura de la ciudad de Zamora.
65 Exposición Internacional de Artes Plásticas de Valdepeñas, Ciudad Real.
XIV Edición Circuitos, Centro de Arte Joven de la Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid. *
Esther Mañas y Arash Moori, EM&AM.
Becas y Premios/Awards and Grants
Propuestas, Fundación Arte y Derecho, Madrid.
Concurso de Pintura y Fotografía, Diario ABC, Madrid. (Mención de Honor)
Premio de Pintura y Escultura, Caja Castilla la Mancha.
Premio 66 Exposición Internacional de Valdepeñas, Ciudad Real.
Premio Pámpana de Oro, Premio 65 Exposición Internacional de Artes Plásticas de Valdepeñas, Ciudad Real.
Obra en Museos y Colecciones/Works in Museum and Collections
Colección de la Diputación Provincial de Ciudad Real. Colección del Ayuntamiento de Noja, Santander. Colección Caja Castilla La Mancha. Colección HEF Inversora S.L., Madrid. Colección Linklaters, Madrid. Colección Linklaters, London.
Villa, Manuela, "Arte Emergente", Ed. Vaivén, 2006, Cat. Exp.
Sánchez Rol, Isabel, "Fragmento de Uso y des(h)echo", En Casa. Intervenciones, La Casa Encendida, 2006, Cat. Exp.
Madrid Creativa "A-Z Diccionario de 200 Artistas Imprescindibles que Trabajan en Madrid", Comunidad de Madrid, 2007, Cat. Exp.
De Corral, María, Martínez de Corral, Lorena, "Planes Futuros. Arte español de los 2000", Pamplona, Gobierno de Navarra, 2006.
Revista de Occidente, nº 328, IX/2008.