Journal of Art and Thought


Lola Massieu.
Abstract restlessness at CAAM

Curator: Mari Carmen Rodríguez

Among the highlights of the fall-winter season at Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno (CAAM), the retrospective of Canarian artist Lola Massieu (Gran Canaria, 1921-2007), curated by Mari Carmen Rodríguez, reviews the best works of the artist’s production and suggest an open and generous reading of her work:

The works of Lola Massieu stem from a restlessness, a disquiet, an inaccessible force that drives the start of the search. The first breath surges from the depths of her being, purifying itself as it passes beyond the corporeal and takes shape on the void of the medium. Here she examines and orders it, dealing with chaos by layers, watching over and refining it, giving unrecognisable shape to something that cannot be expressed in words.

Lola Massieu began her academic training with her uncle, Nicolás Massieu Matos, starting with the classic genres of painting: still life, portrait and landscape. She abstracted the bases and refined objects, renouncing figurative references until she reached an abstraction in tune with constructivism. These were the series of works she produced in the 1970s, when she connected with the second wave of American abstract expressionists, European artists and the Spanish informalist movement.

Her paintings in the seventies were wrought from resin, oil and surrealist decalcomania in works hinting at disturbing, desolate and uncertain spaces. In the next decade her artistic activity evolved as she incorporated new materials such as gold plating, giving form to the transcendent and reproducing architectural and iconographic elements formerly reserved to the sacred.

She later combined thickly outlined geometrical shapes with drip painting, a technique that confuses directionality in the weave of the artwork. This was the period of the large series Un mundo en descomposición, (A world in decomposition) Manzana podrida (Rotten apple) and childhood memories, when she took a more active stance in denouncing a society with few values.

Lola Massieu continued to paint until the end of her life, during more than 50 years of creation and experimentation in the field of pictorial abstraction, evolving in her creative space and testing new materials and techniques: bitumen, gold leaf, decalcomania and scraping.

An innovator and a rebel, Lola Massieu was full of life and self confidence. She was an unprecedented abstract painter, faithful in her commitment to painting and the formal difficulties posed by the plastic arts. Lola returns to herself in a process that takes her from what she has assimilated to her personal poetics thorough deconstruction of the visible, making her one of the key 20th century Canary Islands artists.

Apart from her own creative process, she became a busy art activist, helping to form art groups such as Espacio and Espiral, and collaborating with other groups. She taught artists and was a craftswoman, decorator and restorer. She also defended women’s right to equality in a complex personal and social context. Her attitude undermined the stereotypes of the time about female artists, who were gaining visibility on the art scene in the 1960s.

Throughout her life, she managed to balance passion and reflection, constantly taking risks. Lola received prizes and awards, as well as silence.

She lived and created with a generous spirit. As she herself said, her work is what lasts. Almost ten years after her death, we are witness to this.


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