Exhibition: The José Tasende Donation - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum


2015-09-25 • 2016-01-11

The José Tasende Donation

Room 33

On 22 May this year the Museum accepted the donation of various works of art which were presented to the media at a press conference in early June. Notable among them for its quality and the importance was a group of works by the contemporary Basque artist Andrés Nagel (born San Sebastián, 1947) donated by the American of Bilbao origins José Tasende, founder of the prestigious gallery that bears his name and which is currently based in La Jolla, California.

The donation consists of 34 works by Nagel from the 1980s and 1990s: 16 are in mixed media and oil on polyester and fibreglass while 18 are collages over prints. All these donated works will now be displayed to the public in Room 33 of the Museum until 11 January next year.

Andrés Nagel studied architecture in Pamplona between 1965 and 1972, at which date he began to produce prints and met Eduardo Chillida, who would be a key influence in his career. During these years Nagel was part of the group of artists (together with Vicente Ameztoy, Ramón Zurriarrain and Marta Cárdenas) who focused on rethinking Basque art through their use of figurative imagery in a contemporary mode, often deploying resources derived from Pop Art, Surrealism and Expressionism.

Despite starting his career as a painter, Nagel soon revealed a preference for sculpture, making use of new, industrial materials. His experimental approach has led him to work with oil, acrylic, iron, bronze, zinc, brass, lead, tin, fibreglass and polyester, and to re-use pre-existing objects such as tin cans, ropes, neon lights and pieces of furniture which he manipulates using a range of techniques such as sculpture, painting and the graphic arts.

One of Nagel's preferred materials is fibreglass, which he uses without moulds in a quest for immediacy between the idea and the object. He also habitually works in collage, which allows him to make expressive use of the contrasts between textures and to execute and alter the work rapidly.
The 34 works that have now been donated by José Tasende are examples of these types of polyester and fibreglass sculptures and collages. They date from the late 1980s and 1990s when Nagel was particularly active and had achieved a notable level of technical mastery. Many of them reflect a complex world of contemporary references derived from film, comics, poster design and advertising, as well as from art of earlier centuries. Through them the artist offers a personal artistic vision which disconcerts the viewer with its ironic, burlesque and overtly absurd narrative of the everyday.