José Luis Serzo

Artist selected by López Munuera, Iván at 2010
More artist content updated at 2016

José Luis Serzo (Albacete, 1977) is known for his large-scale ‘storytelling exhibitions’. An indefatigable narrator and inventor of fantastical and possible universes, Serzo creates worlds that transcend reality and, far from offering shelter or refuge in the face of a hostile panorama dominated by pessimism and violence, aim to offer a positive alternative, an optimistic platform for tackling and changing both art and life itself.


As steadfast and committed as his cause, Serzo plants himself firmly at the forefront of a contemporary approach that nonetheless makes use of technical virtuosity and trade traditions, and champions the power of art as a cathartic resource for changing the world. His stories are structured around combinations of paintings, sculptures, installations, drawings, writings and videos that aim to make up an enormous “Total Work of Art”.


1. What made you choose art as a profession?
I could use the old favourite “I didn’t choose art; art chose me” or say that I came hardwired like this. When I was a kid, art is what I did: I was always drawing and creating stories. Now, as an adult, I’m still doing the same thing, throwing myself into “invention and artifice”.


2. How would you define your work?
As a mirror and window to reflect and reveal another believable, promising world. It’s a major project that grows year on year. I’ve used any discipline that helps me make up this allegorical, transcendental and symbolic universe.


3. What subjects are you interested in?
Subjects that spark the imagination and promote personal, intellectual, spiritual and – why not? – social growth. I create stories to find solutions through metaphors that aren’t easy to find here.


4. What resources – formal or otherwise – do you use in your work?
I hope one day to create a truly “total work of art”. I like to approach my series in a global, simultaneous and comprehensive fashion. I enjoy any discipline that offers a path full of adventures.


5. What relationship does your work have with reality? What are your raw materials?
I explore the field of metaphor and try to get close to the alchemic process of transmutation. I use artifice to carry out conjuring tricks. I want each and every spectator to find a welcoming spot in the stories I tell. I look for alternatives to the officially sanctioned style of “disenchantment”; I look for expansive ideas in opposition to expanded corrupt criticism. I aim to activate hope, faith and trust. I’m not afraid to break out of the realm of the “politically correct”.


6. What, according to you, is the point of art?
To take trips that truly change your soul. Flights of fancy. A welcome virtue.


7. How do you hope the public will receive your work? What audience are you aiming at?
All those with an interest in life (which isn’t as obvious as it might sound). I’d love to reach out to everyone willing to make the smallest effort – people interested in culture, but who don’t find a means of feedback in most “elitist” contemporary art. I’ve had enough of the art world aiming at a tiny, specialised sector; it’s time to make “universal art” again. I’d love to be a Charlie Chaplin of contemporary art. I’d be up for it.


8. What qualifications have you got? What do you value most from your time in education?
I didn’t get a degree because I didn’t have a pass in three subjects. It was an absurd reaction to a kind of scary phenomenon that hung over the heads of those who walked through the department every day. I saw it as a machine designed to churn out teachers, and inside “frustrated artists” who in the future could only hope to aspire to the same thing. That thought terrified me.


I wanted to spend my time creating, so I leapt out of that tree without a safety net. But I learnt a lot, because I’ve always had a thirst for learning and I really enjoyed the classes, corridors, cafés and libraries. I made some great friends who are still alongside me on the path I’ve chosen. I’ve got good memories of good teachers. Ultimately, though, education comes from yourself, from your own interest and curiosity. We all know that needs must and that where there’s a will there’s a way.


9. How would you define your current professional situation? And in the future?
I think I’m in a privileged position, even though I’m in a “politically incorrect” situation, in terms of my style and attitude. The public generally has a good time at my exhibitions, which is the important thing, lots of critics support my work and I’m not short of exhibitions. In the future I’ve got my sights set on abroad…


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?
I live (or rather survive) from my work. These are tough times, which unfortunately has a direct effect on my work, but I believe and have always found that work, effort and perseverance always bring their reward sooner or later.


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?
I hope they’re interested in breaking the paradigm. People are tired of “anything goes”, secrecy, recalcitrant critics, morbid curiosity and the lack of any real depth (some people confuse this depth with metalinguistic, self-referential discourses that don’t go anywhere). Lots of us are thirsty for new, bold, human, dynamic, lucid, sincere and demanding art. Eclectic, beautiful and healthy art. Let’s start creating art that carves out new, more hopeful, brighter paths.


12. What do you think sets the arts scene in Madrid apart from elsewhere? What would you say are its pluses and minuses?
Madrid is obviously a major nerve centre. The biggest in Spain. At the moment, unfortunately, everything is still heavily centralised. Bit by bit there’s more culture outside the capital, with interesting museums, art centres and galleries, but for the time being, the centre, the heart of the flow of information and culture, is here.
There’s lots of everything here, but there are too many of us for us all to get something. There’s still lots to do, but that’s true of anywhere. We’re working at it. And to be honest, you can get a bit fed up of so much complaining, can’t you?


Curriculum vitae

José Luis Serzo
Albacete, 1977.
Vive y trabaja en/Lives and works in: Madrid.


Formación Académica/Education
Facultad de Bellas Artes, Universidad Complutense de Madrid.


Exposiciones Individuales (Selección)/Selected Solo Exhibitions
El renacimiento de Blinky Rotred, Galería Siboney, Santander.


La historia más bella jamás contada, Galería MCO Arte Contemporáneo, Porto.


Thewelcome III. El regreso de la Maravilla. Extraños sucesos en la Mancha, Galería Lisa Arte Contemporáneo; Centro Cultural de la Asunción; Museo de Albacete; Galería JM, Málaga. 
La insólita y reveladora historia de Pietro Ferro, Project Room, Artelisboa 09, Galería Siboney, Santander.
Blinky Maya y los Luciérnagos II, Marena Rooms Gallery, Torino.
Avistamientos al amanecer, Galería Blanca Soto Arte, Madrid.


Los sueños de I Ming, el pequeño amarillo, Sala Rivadavia, Diputación de Cádiz. *


Familasia, la isla de los virtuosos, Galería Siboney, Santander. *


* Cat. Exp.


Exposiciones Colectivas (Selección)/Selected Group Exhibitions
Nulle die sine línea (Dibujo español contemporáneo), Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, Lisboa; Instituto Cervantes, Chicago. 
Reality Show, 16 Bienal de Cerveira, Palacete Viscondes de Balsemão, Porto.
Urbanea, la realidad como síntoma, Inca, Palma de Mallorca.
, Arte Iberoamericano Contemporáneo, The Cool Pack, Madrid.
JUST MAD, Galería Blanca Soto Arte, Madrid.
ART MADRID, La Lisa Arte Contemporáneo, Madrid.
Wallpaper, Galería A&D, Barcelona.


10 años, Galería Blanca Soto Arte, Madrid.
Away from Dios, Los 7+1 pecados capitales, Galería CMTV, Barcerlona.
A Picasso, in memorian, Galería Concha Perdrosa, Sevilla.
Cinerama, La sonrisa del acomodador, Galería Siboney, Santander.
Krudakammer de La Cruda, Galería Ferran Cano, Palma de Mallorca.
Colección de arte contemporáneo, Donaciones y adquisiciones 2009, Sala Rivadavia, Cádiz.
Hip & Cool, Picnic Festibal, Fundación Marcelino Botín, Santander.
ARTESANTANDER 10, Galería Siboney, Santander.
Teatro de los misterios, PEREGRINATIO 2010, Arte en las ermitas de Sagunto, Valencia.
Nulle die sine línea (Dibujo español contemporáneo), Freires Museum, Berlin; Centro de Arte Sangsang Madang, Seoul.
(Entrespacios), Galería Artemenudo, Lugo; Galería Factoría Compostela, Santiago de Compostela.
¡Que nos corten la cabeza!, Centro Cultural Casa del Reloj, Madrid.
El extraño garaje, Galería Siboney, Santander.
A Tribute, Two Heads Chiken Gallery, Évora, Portugal.
A love story, Palacio de Don Manuel, Évora, Portugal.
Krudakammer, Galería CMTV, Barcelona.
Mapeando, Representaciones del territorio, Parador de Almagro, Ciudad Real.
Re-Cre-Acción. La mirada de narciso, Museo Municipal López Villaseñor, Ciudad Real.
ARCO 10. Stand Galería Siboney / Stand Archivo de creadores de Madrid / Stand Región de Murcia.


Proyectos Curatoriales / Curatorial Projects
Miguel Barnés, 360º en espiral, drowning by painting, Museo de Santa Cruz, Toledo. (comisariada junto con/curated in cooperation with Óscar Alonso Molina)
De space guachos. Visiones de un marciano en La Mancha o historias de un manchego en Marte, La Lisa Arte Contemporáneo, Albacete.
1er Daimon: Yolanda Tabanera, Bálsamo de tierra, del proyecto Los señores del bosque o Las 1001 caras del daimon, Galería La Lisa arte contemporáneo, Albacete.


Tu amor me da hambre, 15 años de diálogos, Luis Gordillo & Arturo Prins, Galería La Lisa, Albacete. (comisariada junto con/curated in cooperation with Óscar Alonso Molina)


Ensalada de Bombilla, Galería Blanca Soto, Madrid.
Reacciones / historias de sobremesa, Galería Ka, Madrid.


Director artístico de la galería La Lisa Arte Contemporáneo, Albacete.
Director del monográfico de la revista 967arte.
Director artístico de la sección de arte contemporáneo del Electromar Festival, Murcia.


Becas y Premios/Awards and Grants
Premio de Artes Plásticas de Albacete, Albacete. (1er Premio/1st Award)
Premio II Certamen de Dibujo Contemporáneo Pilar y Andrés Centenera Jaraba, Villa de Alovera, Guadalajara, España. (2º Premio/2nd Prize)


Premio Pámpana de Plata, LXVI Exposición Nacional de Artes Plásticas de Valdepeñas, Ciudad Real. (Premio/Award)


Premio de Pintura 2000 Fundación Valparaíso, Galería Alfama, Madrid. (1er Premio/1st Award)
XVIII Certamen Jóvenes Artistas de Albacete, Albacete (Accésit/Second Prize).

Obra en Museos y Colecciones/Works in Museums and Collections
Caja Castilla la Mancha.
MEFIC (Museo de Escultura Figurativa Internacional Contemporánea)
Colección Norte de Arte Contemporáneo, Gobierno de Cantabria.
Fundación Provincial de Cultura, Diputación de Cádiz.
Fundación Fernando Mª Centenera Jaraba, Alovera, Guadalajara, España.
Fundación Valparaíso, Almería.
Facultad de Bellas Artes de la U.C.M. de Madrid
Colegio Oficial de Médicos de Madrid.
Ayuntamiento de Albacete.
Museo de Adra, Almería.
Teatro Circo, Albacete.
Faena Hotel and Universe Buenos Aires.
Porto Bay. Hotels & Resorts, Madeira, Portugal.


Bonet, Juan Manuel, “Cantabria en cien piezas”, Cántabro en la colección norte. Ed. Gobierno de Cantábria. 2011. Cat. Exp.
Castro Flórez, Fernando, “Los dones y los relatos de la imaginación mágica.[Consideraciones sobre la expansión pictórica de José Luis Serzo]”, Thewelcome, el regreso de la maravilla. José Luis Serzo, Ed Dardo, 2010. Cat Exp.
Castro Flórez, Fernando, “Magia para un mundo desencantado. Una aproximación a los sueños fantásticos de José Luis Serzo”, Avistamientos al amanecer. De los sueños de I Ming. El pequeño amarillo, Madrid, Galería Blanca Soto, 2009, Cat. Exp.
Cereceda, Miguel, “La emancipación de la fantasía”, ABCD las artes y las letras, n. 898, Madrid, 18-24/IV/2009.
De la Torre Amerighi, Iván, “José Luis Serzo”, Exit Express, n. 44, Madrid, V/2009.
Méndez, Noemí, “José Luis Serzo”, Arte y Parte, n. 80, Santander, IV-V/2009.
Alonso Molina, Óscar, “Una historia, que es un cuento, contada a dos voces. Conversación entre José Luis Serzo y Óscar Alonso Molina”, Los sueños de I Ming, El pequeño amarillo”, Diputación de Cádiz, Sala Rivadavia, 2008, Cat. Exp.
Alonso Molina, Óscar, “Algunos finales provisionales para esta nueva historia de José Luís Serzo”, Familasia, la isla de los virtuosos, Santander, Galería Siboney, 2007, Cat. Exp.
Alonso Molina, Oscar, “Buenos días, tristeza”, ABCD las artes y las letras, n.746, Madrid, V/2006.
Hontoria, Javier, “Tras la pista de Thewelcome” El Cultural, El Mundo, Madrid, 23-31/V/2006.
Rubio Nomblot, Javier, “El tránsito al abismo”, Post Show, Almería, Museo de Adra, 2003, Cat. Exp.