A Conversation on the Late Work of Maruja Mallo
This encounter is organised inside the framework of a series of activations of the Collection during the month of March, underscoring feminist artistic practices and the work of women artists. On this occasion, different specialist voices with an interest in the work of Maruja Mallo engage in conversation about her output following her return from exile and explore a selection of her late works, made from 1975 to 1982, conserved in the Museo Reina Sofía Collection.
The work of Maruja Mallo is shown in sequences across different episodes of Communicating Vessels. Collection 1881–2021 in an illustration of how the idea of “episode” works as a museum resource that opens up to flexible temporalities and inter-linking interdisciplinary approaches, thereby forming new narratives. Thus, artists re-appear at different historical junctures in new contexts and narratives, transforming the theories and time periods with which they are chiefly associated. In this vein, Mallo appears in Episode 1. Avant-garde Territories: City, Architecture and Magazines, centred on historical avant-garde movements, Episode 2. Lost Thought, on art and exile after the Spanish Civil War, and Episode 6: The Drunken Boat: Eclecticism, Institutionalism and Disobedience, devoted to art during the 1980s. Although avant-garde art and exile are two powerful moments within which the work of this artist is historically classified, there is innovation in her inclusion in the 1980s via her mature work. In the final years of her life, Mallo was viewed as a modern icon by artists from Spain’s burgeoning democracy, and she in turn responded with original work, reaffirming the Spanish saying that not all new art is young art. The work she produced in this period includes techno-futurist artefacts and assemblages of machines and bodies simulating a strange astral cosmos with the spirit of the verbena, the summer fair. This fusion of organisms and technology invokes a cyborg aesthetic as the central idea of the decade, as well as the feminist movement’s concern with women’s bodies, identities and representation.
This fresh view of Maruja Mallo is debated in this activity, which takes place in two parts: the first in the Museo’s storerooms of artworks, where her drawings of astral bodies are preserved, and the second in Room 001.08 entitled Satire, Cyborgs and Biology, where her work is displayed alongside artists such as Victoria Gil (1963), Liliana Maresca (1951–1994) and Ulrike Ottinger (1942), to mention but a few.
Ángel Calvo Ulloa is an exhibition curator and art critic. He holds a degree in Art History from the University of Santiago de Compostela and is a frequent contributor with El Cultural. He has curated, among other shows, La cuestión es ir tirando (Centro Cultural de España in Mexico, 2020) and Bajo el brazo: entre la palma de la mano y la axila (CaixaForum, Barcelona, 2016), and has published, with Juan Canela, the book Desde lo curatorial. Conversaciones, experiencias y afectos (Consonni, 2020).
Joaquín García is a cultural manager and gallerist who holds a degree in Art History from the Complutense University of Madrid. He is the founder and director of Galería García in Madrid, which focuses on promoting young artists, and has exhibited the work of Elvira Amor, David Bestué, Eva Fábregas and Karlos Gil, among others.
Patricia Molins is a temporary exhibition coordinator at Museo Reina Sofía.
Henar Rivière is a post-doctoral researcher in the Art History Department at the Complutense University of Madrid. She has also been the head of Research and Projects in Archivo Lafuente in Santander. Her research revolves around artistic practices developed since the end of the 1950s inside the experimental context of action and intermedia art.