foto firma

Manuel Alcalá

I was born in Madrid at the end of December 1958.

My mother told me that when I was three years old we lived with her brother's family while we waited for the finishing of our own home. One day the adults left us children alone for a few hours in the care of the older cousin, but it seems that he was distracted and on the way back they discovered that I had painted the walls of the house with a pen as far as my arm could reach. That made my uncles terribly angry and precipitated our departure from their home.

At eight years old, in the absence of walls, I filled school books with doodles and the nuns did not fully understand that such an educated and good boy could not control his mess. I think it was at that time that I discovered my vocation towards art despite the fact that my parents insisted on telling the world that I was going to be an aeronautical engineer. The vocation is something that is there in spite of one and sometimes it is more a torment than a joy.

In my early youth, after being rejected at the then San Fernando Higher School of Fine Arts of the Complutense University of Madrid, I studied several Philosophy courses, but I dropped out because I wanted to be a painter and a philosopher and in college they only taught me to be a teacher. I also studied with various artists at the Círculo de Bellas Artes. I have a special memory of José Guerrero, who broadened my imagination towards abstraction and made me fully aware of the fact of being a painter.

I also remember museums, lots of museums and art galleries, which is where I really learned the craft.

I investigated the avant-gardes of the 20th century and was part of different groups of plastic artists until I discovered that everything that made my sensibility vibrate and taught me to look at the world in a modern way was exhausted.

At that time, discussions about the death of art were very much in vogue and I wrote the book of aphorisms “Recipes to be an artist”, a set of reflections to seek light and put my ideas in order.

When the first computers appeared, I immediately understood the power of this technology as a support for creation, I learned the basics of some programming languages and incorporated it as another tool for carrying out my artistic and professional work in the field of graphic design, illustration and the publishing world.

In 2009 I looked back at the Baroque, I recovered the theme of my youth and involved other disciplines in the creation of my work: film and theater directors, actors, dancers, photographers... I started the project “The original sin". I worked on the dramatic and cinematographic point of view of painting. Different angles of the same scene. Trying to capture the action while it is happening and avoiding the passive attitude of the pose.

From there was born the following project, "Traviata", the first research on transmedia narrative in painting, a pioneering idea that sought to define, through the exploration of the creative process, the way of telling stories using paintings.

I summoned creators from cinema, theater, music, dance, opera, photography and fashion to work together with the same materials, the same actors under the same spotlights to tear apart Verdi's opera and then recreate it under a new look. Each artist, when making their work, impregnated it and mixed it with their essence, but also that of others.

In addition, Traviata generated an immersive experience with the public.
A first part was held in Spain from 2012 to 2014 and was presented simultaneously in New York and Madrid.

In 2014 I traveled to Buenos Aires to seek the perspective of artists from the South.

I managed to gather a group of prestigious theater and film directors to perform it again at the Recoleta Cultural Center, in addition to the support of the San Martín Theater, but after seeking funding unsuccessfully for more than three years, in a country plunged into a permanent crisis, I had to return to Madrid and the project remained on stand-by.

I am currently immersed in the series “We are part of the same”. I let myself be carried away by the eclecticism that has defined and tormented me throughout the creative process of my existence and I try to make a story with the technique that each work asks of me. That is the challenge that moves me when I wake up every morning.