Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1926 – Madrid, 1972
Manolo Millares was a self-taught Spanish artist who, after an initial stage marked by considerable interest in archaeology and surrealism, adopted his own style characterized by the use of burlap —an evocation of the fabric in which the Guanche mummies were wrapped in the Canary Islands— and an artistic language which alternated tormented, lyrical and gestural moments.
He was the main promoter of the LADAC (The Archers of Contemporary Art), which held the first exhibition in the Canarian Museum of Las Palmas (1950). His first solo exhibition in the peninsula took place in the Galeries Jardí of Barcelona in 1951, the year in which he exhibited at the 1st Biennial of Hispano-American Art in Madrid. In 1953, he moved to Madrid and also participated in the 2nd Biennial of Hispano-American Art in Havana. He was a cofounding member of the El Paso group in 1957, which defended the opening up of Franco’s Spain in the international sphere. He participated in the São Paulo Biennial in 1957 (at which the MoMA acquired one of the artist’s works) and in the Venice Biennial in 1958. 1960 was a key year in his career, since he participated in the three major exhibitions scheduled in New York City: “New Spanish Painting and Sculpture” at the MoMA, “Before Picasso; After Miró” at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and “Four Spanish Painters: Millares, Canogar, Rivera, Saura” at the Pierre Matisse Gallery. In that same year, he had solo exhibitions also at the Pierre Matisse and at the Daniel Cordier gallery in Paris, his gallerists in the USA and in Europe.
With consolidated international recognition, from 1960 to 1972 he used burlap as the central element of his composition, basically using the colours black, red and white. Burlap became the expression of existential anguish and his work was a reflection of human brutality and the both physical and psychological wounds caused by the wars experienced in Europe during the last century.
His works form part of major collections and international museums.