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Matías Sánchez in front of a giant wall covered in his most ambitious works. Marilú Báez
The grotesque world of Matías Sánchez comes to Malaga's CAC
Culture

The grotesque world of Matías Sánchez comes to Malaga's CAC

The Andalusian artist, known for his unique style blending the dreamlike and the absurd, displays a parallel world of fantasy in this new exhibition

Regina Sotorrío

Malaga

Friday, 14 June 2024, 11:05

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The world Matías Sánchez creates is overwhelming. The dozens of grotesque faces that appear in his paintings, with long noses, mischievous smiles and blurred edges are unsettling.

"Although they seem tender to me, they might be a bit scary... or sad," the artist reflects in front of one of his works, a metre-and-a-half long, that covers a wall at CAC Málaga. It is titled La Pasión and will be the last to occupy that central U-shaped area of the gallery for a while. With this exhibition, the CAC marks the end of an era, one defined by the management of Fernando Francés, first as director and then as curator of almost all its projects, including this one.

The current concession ends on 18 September, when the centre will come under the direct control of Malaga city council's department of culture for the first time in its 21-year history.

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For this final major exhibition - there is still a smaller one to be opened in Sala B - the contemporary art centre is showcasing a local artist, a name that first appeared here 15 years ago. Matías Sánchez, raised in Isla Cristina (Huelva province) and residing in Seville, returns in grand style with his most ambitious project, La Gloria es Otra Cosa (Glory is Something Else): 65 large-format paintings that span his work from 2000 to the present.

"It's a pleasure to see it. There are pieces I never thought could be in the same space."

Self taught

A self-taught artist who trained in his father's studio, Matías Sánchez draws inspiration from the great masters, from Goya to Picasso, from Rembrandt to Basquiat.

"I'm influenced by all painters, all the good ones," he says. He pays homage to many of them with outlandish portraits or recreations of their works, such as Hieronymus Bosch's The Ship of Fools. The staging is striking, with an immense composition created in the centre of the room featuring 28 paintings from floor to ceiling.

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There are recurring elements: hats, toothy smiles, skulls, bones, rabbits, little devils... Disconnected characters and pieces, seemingly senseless, set against an abstract background, yet they form paintings with movement and balance that tell a story, one that each onlooker can imagine. As Juncosa described it, it is "the beauty of the ugly".

Matías Sánchez's principle is to enjoy painting "and also titling". He says he doesn't create an "alibi" to justify the painting, that the themes don't matter to him. He works intuitively and very quickly. Sánchez simply constructs a parallel world, between the dreamlike and the absurd, with complete freedom, and then labels it with whatever word inspires him at the moment. "It's something anecdotal, sometimes it has nothing to do with the painting but with my daily life, with my autobiography." What truly interests him is "painting as a code".

Early works

His early works show more influence from comics and graffiti, with more "edgy" and rigid, sharply defined shapes. Over the years, the lines have blurred, gaining in colour and abstraction within figuration. But Sánchez isn't particularly interested in this issue either: "I think artists' evolutions are much better examined in retrospect, in the future, posthumously."

The title La Gloria es Otra Cosa is a response to his first exhibition in this venue, Elegidos para la Gloria (Chosen for Glory). It plays with the idea of the effort artists put into seeking recognition, "when the true glory for an artist is to paint and make a living from their art, even if modestly". He has achieved this.

The exhibition will be open to the public until 1 September. After that, the dismantling and clearing of the space (except for the permanent collection) will begin in order to hand over the keys to the city council on 18 September.

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