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Alejandro Montiel, between 'T-Rex' and 'Infantdino B'. Marilú Báez
Alejandro Montiel's disruptive art: Philip IV on a T-Rex and Snow White discovers eroticism
Art and culture

Alejandro Montiel's disruptive art: Philip IV on a T-Rex and Snow White discovers eroticism

The Malaga-born artist plays with contrasts at an exposition in the Ateneo, packed with eroticism and a touch of pop culture

Regina Sotorrío

Malaga

Friday, 23 February 2024

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There is always something that breaks scene. A look that should not be there, an element of surprise, an attitude that disturbs. "It's like a game. If not, it's not fun," the Malaga-born artist Alejandro Montiel states, at an exposition in the Ateneo, a cultural centre in Malaga. As soon as you enter, your eyes clock the portrait of Philip IV of Spain, originally painted by Velázquez in 1623, except here he is riding an inflatable T-Rex. To the right, Snow White and Cinderella discover eroticism. Because when Montiel has the opportunity to create freely, there truly are no rules.

The theme of 'Going back forward' uses technique and knowledge of tradition to break with norms. The exposition (open until 29 March), composed of 22 works, acts as a retrospective of the themes that have left their mark on the artist's career.

Montiel acknowledges feeling like an "outsider" from other artistic circles: he loves to paint, but flees from the conventions that these groups demand in order to have visibility.

The bureaucracy of securing a room, putting the exhibition online, working under pressure... For this reason, apart from one-off proposals from places like Kipfer & Lover, the majority of his work has been commissioned, with portraits in high demand. He is now overcoming this obstacle with the help of Sara Sarabia, arts manager and curator of this exhibition, with the collaboration of the Ateneo, Fundación Málaga, and the MaF (Málaga de Festival).

In 'Going back forward', Montiel makes clear his classical training and his respect for the great teachers, without denying his touch of pop culture. He enjoys contrasting figures, as well as colours, with a critical backdrop that reflects society's hypocrisy and double standards. As Sarabia points out, social media censures images of breasts, but allows itself to be used as a platform for bullying, or as one that creates a false reality.

A clash of values which Montiel brings to its highest expression in 'Can I touch?' and 'Princess', where Disney princesses, in full colour - symbols of innocence, sweetness, and also of the submissive woman - mix with explicit, and somewhat aggresive, nudity, in black and white. He also turns to black and white in his groundbreaking work 'Nice day', a scene with a vintage aesthetic but which looks completely current: two children playing on a beach-trench while a tank approaches.

Eroticism is a constant theme in the work of this Malaga-born artist. "Nudity has always been present in the history of art," he states. Montiel presents it on a large scale, in almost two-metre-long paintings, like 'Don't you look at my girlfriend,' but also through the style of 'preciosity' in his smaller paintings, that deal with the sensitivity of detail in powerful sexual scenes, Sara Sarabia explains. In 'Sisters and pigs', which features a retro look, a nude woman whose gaze appeals directly to the viewer, becomes the conflicting presence in a relaxed meeting of sisters.

Modern young people with religious symbols (an areola, a crown of thorns, a t-shirt of Jesus) and a Barbie with a totally plastic appearance, contary to that expected for the world's most famous doll, complete the acid and ironic universe of Montiel.

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