NARCISO MAISTERRA: HIS WORK
Narciso Maisterra was born in Palencia, where he spent his early years.
He moved to Madrid as a young adult to study at the University of Madrid and to attend classes at the Circulo de Bellas Artes. Shortly after graduation, he traveled to the United States, where he decided to settle indefinitely. It was there that his work as an artist took shape.
A review of one of Maisterra´s early shows described “stunted emaciated creatures painted in muted colours [that] suggest a Huxleyan post-Bomb world, most frightening because the figures gaze at us, asking and expecting nothing”.
The critic further described Maistera as “justaposing peculiarly flaccid, creature-like images of distorted bodies with parodies of warm, living nudes, as in `Santo Entierro´ and `Maja Desnuda´ (a take-off on Goya´s `Maja Unclothed´). Maisterra suggests the terrifying reality of death beneath the outer show of sensuous beauty. Clearly, Maisterra´s powerful idiom is not everyone´s cup of tea, but his skill as a painter is undeniable.”
After a period in which his work was imbued with religious symbolism, Maisterra transitioned into a phase during which he began exploring three-dimensional work. Building transparent boxes and telephone booths to size, Maisterra created spaces of intense spiritual agony – scientific or technical versions of the confessional box – where the human individual displays its terribly vulnerable meathood inside the merciless linearity of steel and acrylic tubing.
Using modem media like polichromed polyester resin and fiber glass, Maisterra combines a highly technical knowledge of hydraulics, electrical circuitry, and anatomy with a spiritual vision in the tradition of El Greco and Goya, who dealt in startling ways with man´s darker spiritual problems. These problems, in the twentieth century, impose a monumental task on the artist, who must always seek a form for his vision.
Maisterra, in his own special way, has chosen to step between the worlds of form: the world of the machine and the world of human flesh which the technocracy ostensibly serves but, in fact, threatens to consume.”
Over the course of seventeen years, Maisterra lived in Providence, Rhode Island and taught at the Wheeler School, during which time his interest in three-dimensional work led to the completion of sculptural pieces which used both forms and the spaces in between them in creative and innovative ways.
Returning to Spain in the eighties, Maisterra took up residence in Cantabria, where he had numerous one-man shows. He also had exhibits in Madrid and other Spanish cities. His work during this period had a “common denominator an expansiveness, a horizontal, 180 degree extension, which makes his work genuine and original and creates a convex world that is plastic and fascinating… it is the painting of memories, of the search for lost time, a time such as Proust described, in which man is constantly driven, consumed by activity, but in his work, Maisterra represents man as if he were seeing him through the eyes of a child”.
Maisterra arranges his characters in landscapes which, “by their conception and definition escape so many of the usual pictoral conventions such as the technique of perspective. The panoramic vision, which this peculiar format permits, provokes a unique response in the viewer, one that takes over the imagination and creates a vertigo.”
At present, Maisterra lives in Palencia, where he continues to expand his body of work. “His recent work is scathing, extremely personal proposition, at times as hard as concrete, because Narciso´s nudes do not seek beauty, but rather certainty of what nudity hides… its history of constant loss, represented without sympathy and at the same time with enormous tenderness, because Maisterra knows well this part of the world that he shares with us”.
AS OF 2000 NARCISO SUFFERS AN ACCIDENT
During this period, the work executed in 50 x 70 cm format abounds. with oil, pastels and pencil, as well as, 30 x 42 cms. The oil notes. These supports provide the artist with a faster way to capture their ideas.
The format of the work on canvas varies from 80 x 60 cm to 120 x 140 cm.
During the decade of the seventies, Maisterra worked on installations that were left in the u.s.a., mostly in private collections. While the installations are not currently on display, the museum has numerous photographic records. This page presents some samples of the work of this period.