First solo exhibition in STOA of Eric Aman
Curator Conchi Alvarez
Right from the first contact with Eric’s work, the narrative flow of this display was clear. Despite the obvious sculpture-painting combination, the first and logical impression of his visit, soon this vision faded away. It happens when contemplating the power of plastic, which reveals his painting style and which makes an undoubted reference to the whole court of masters, who prioritized form over content. The Power of plastic is, in its case, imbued with a fine sense of humour, a tempered irony and a great dose of acuity inherent in each bronze and each painting.
His sculpture belongs to the most classic art domain- to the peak of classicism. All art works from this exhibition show this timeless ethos, which can be found in the masterpieces. His art could be classified, not only as a work within the Attica Hellenistic School, but could also belong to the Italian Quattrocento, to the French classicism or to the Neoclassicism… That is why it’s no wonder that this Frenchmen, who has been fond of Italy for so many years, was named the “nuovo Michelangelo” by the Italian press. It’s a very clever comparison, not only because both of them share the neoplatonic ideal to outweigh the beauty of nature by using imagination1, but also both were considered to be endowed with this energy and power of potential of the first Michelangelo. If we consider the Renaissance to be the origin, the French classicism is its logical continuation. Indeed there is a lot of finesse from Houdon to Eric, up to a certain parallelism: French nationality, trip to Italy in order to be able to catch a whiff of the classic and its “revivals”: the Renaissance, the Neoclassicism… in order to achieve “a more of a statuary than a sculptural art”2. A someone who has created two big statues for the niches in the Saint Mary of Angels Church, Eric was the last sculptor to have placed a monolithic sculpture of Santa Catalina de Sienna measuring 7 meters of height in one of the Vatican niches. From this colossal statue to the bronzes shown at this exhibition, some are almost artefacts, although they all were intended to bring about the iconographic traditional types such as an opera singer, a bather (an interesting version of motherhood), boules player, a “manpis” along with marvellous allegories of the painter, the cabbage-woman or the banana-woman.
His painting is directly related to the ones called “scientific painters” of Quattrocento, such as Masaccio, Piero Della Francesca, Paolo Ucello. All these works are a reference to the fresco paintings: a palette of cold colours, the superiority of drawing over colour, the “tactile aspects” which were named by Berenson, and, above all the inherent decorative purpose of each piece of art. Apparently, this creates the pictorial iter of this exhibition. This is nothing new, these are precisely imitations of stones and wood, which go back to the Roman opus sectile and the decorations of the second Pompeian style in painting3, to later be linked with the painted inlays from the 14th century in Siena, which reached their period of splendour in Florence of the Quattrocent age with the aforementioned artists such as Piero della Francesca y Paolo Ucello. The next step was the leap towards the trompe l’oeil and illusionist scenes. Some magnificent polychromes imitating gemstones and marble4 incrustations were created during the period of Mannerism and Baroque. Yet, Eric has gone even further transforming each of his paintings into a symbolist desire5 by going beyond the limits and dealing with seemingly simple and conventionally allegoric subjects and their traditional meanings6.That is exactly when we perceive the strong novecentista flair (first quarter of 20th century) in his paintings, which is so close to the ones painted by Prerafaelists, to the Nazarenes. They are however filled with a very specific “amanian” style charged with intelligent humour, continuous allusions towards the audience and numerous double-meanings. Courtly and gallant scenes (“So unexpected”) share the space with elegant Tuscan landscapes (“Glancing”); the mythology (“Cornucopia”), the idyllic Arcadia (“Box of chocolates”) along with the new Arcadia: los Baños del Carmen in Málaga (“A view with affections”), unanimated scenes such as “Harmony’s contrasts”, “Representative flora” or the still-life genre “bodegón” in “They were hidden”. Eric, the Demiurge artist makes these statues come to life in: “So unexpected”, “Change of posture” or “Meeting us”, or creates allegories of excellent execution, such as “Angels’ stairway”, “Moments to recall” or the mannerist-style “Looking back”, which creates a suffocating atmosphere. But this Frenchman, adoptive Italian and Spanish by love, also plays with the spectator using arcane symbolisms such as “Moments to recall”, or autobiographical works, some of them being almost self-portraits such as “Partial liberty”, “I can go along with everything”, “What do you want?” and culminating in “Artistic imitations”- an explanatory and declarative piece of work, in which from his magisterial proud use of “sleight of hand”, he claims a deserved place in the History of Art.
1 “Renaissance Art” Elie Faure. Page 150 and seq. Ed. Alianza and also
“Artistic theory in Italy 1450-1600” Antony Blunt. Page 76. Arte Cátedra
2 “Painting and Sculpture in Europe 1780-1880” Fritz Novotny. Page 371. Ed. Cátedra
3 “The Artistic Techniques” Corrado Maltese (coordinator). Page 354. Ed. Cátedra
4 Ibid., page 250
5 “Symbolist Art” Edward Lucie-Smith. Ed. Destino. Page 24, el capricho, “the Venecian genre consists in a study of imaginary architecture, of a real architecture within an invented scenaio (…) in order to test the inventive capacity of the artist as well as his skills”
6 “Painting and Sculpture in Europe 1880 to 1940” George Heard Hamilton. Cátedra. Page 82, about Puvis de Chavannes
MAN PLAYING PETANQUE
Bronze, lost-wax casting. Unique piece + 1 a.p.
60 x 36 x 45 cm