José Manuel Belmonte and the rise of Andalusian figurative art

José Manuel Belmonte and the rise of Andalusian figurative art
José Manuel Belmonte and the rise of Andalusian figurative art

Mercedes Martínez | Córdoba, (EFE).- The sculptor from Córdoba, José Manuel Belmonte, believes that “contemporary figurative art in Andalusia is booming.” Belmonte is considered one of the most important figurative sculptors today.

Belmonte is internationally known for his sculpture of ‘La regadora’ (The watering can). The work has become an emblem of the Patios of Córdoba. In an interview with EFE, the artist has defended the status of this type of art, which is beginning to be “for all audiences” regardless of age and cultural level.

In his opinion, “what happened in the 20th century is happening again”. Back then, people spoke of the “Catalan, Galician, Levantine or Andalusian school”. That concept disappeared and now “we have the Madrid school, the Andalusian school or the school of figurative artists again”.

José Manuel Belmonte is surprised that his work is recognised throughout Spain. “When I exhibited this year in Coruña, people came to see it from the Basque Country or Madrid, and that really caught my attention.”

“I find it hard to accept criticism of me”

He adds that “it is true that they say that I am one of the two or three best figurative sculptors, and they put it in catalogues and reviews, but sometimes I find it hard to accept.”

Although in his native Córdoba he has sculptures in different areas of the capital and that ‘La Regadora’, the international emblem of the Patios of Córdoba, has become one of the favourite frames for photos of tourists who visit the city, José Manuel Belmonte feels more recognised outside his homeland.

José Manuel Belmonte, posing next to one of his works, has claimed in an interview with EFE that figurative art is beginning to be “for all audiences”, regardless of age and cultural level. EFE/Rafa Alcaide

In his latest exhibitions, “I have been told that I may be unknown to buyers, but the artists all know me.” And for him, that is “a great satisfaction” because it means that “my effort is worth it.”

Recognition of effort

The artist feels that this year he is reaping part of the fruits of his 43-year career. It is a recognition of the effort of his work.

This recognition is reflected, for example, in the success of the exhibitions he has been exhibiting in China and Taiwan. This has been in the first months of 2024. As a result of which he is exhibiting his work until July 30 at the Get Art Museum in Taipei.

In this exhibition, Belmonte displays his collection ‘Bestiario’. In it he demonstrates the capacity of contemporary figurative sculpture to evolve and constantly renew itself, as well as the validity of a technique such as relief, whose origins date back to the ancient world.

Titles such as ‘Nautilus’, ‘Minerva’, ‘Eva’, ‘The Valley of the Psyche’, ‘Camarlengo’, ‘The Nest’ or ‘Dream about fish’ make up the fourteen bas-reliefs. It is a technique “that is now in disuse among sculptors due to its great difficulty”. He explains that “we are talking about, in a maximum of one and a half centimetres, depth, volume, anatomy must be achieved and that is something very complicated”.

Exhibition in Portugal

Furthermore, the Indian mansion of Villa Idalina in Caminha (Portugal) is hosting an exhibition called ‘Vip’ until 15 August. Some of his works are on display, such as ‘Birdmen’, in small format, and ‘Jaque Mate’. This is an exhibition that he came to through the Espacio 75 gallery in Madrid.

Another of his current projects is the one that opened this weekend in Pedraza (Segovia) where in the exhibition ‘Arte entre velas’, together with the painter Carlos Muro, he exhibits three life-size works from the ‘Hombres pájaro’ series in the church of Santo Domingo and “I am also bringing the three and a half metre giant of ‘Cogiendo la luna'”.

Exhibition in Cordoba

In addition, during July he will also be showing some of his works in Zamora. This will be in collaboration with the Espacio 36 Gallery, without forgetting that it is part of the collective exhibition ‘Donde una tea alumbra’, in the Vimcorsa gallery in Córdoba.

This exhibition, curated by Félix Ruiz Cardador, includes a selection of visual artists from Andalusia, 40 painters and 8 sculptors, each of whom will contribute a work representative of their creativity. In the case of José Manuel Belmonte, the work on display is ‘Luis’, from his series ‘Miradas en la noche’.

Regarding the latter, the sculptor from Cordoba has stated that it is “spectacular”, with the presence of the “most important representatives of figurative art”, such as Salustiano García, author of the controversial poster for Holy Week in Seville or the director of the Museum of New Realism in Almería.

Satisfied with the success of all these exhibitions, the sculptor continues to work towards tackling new projects for next year because “in 2025 I have a very important one that I cannot reveal yet.”

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