|Miguel Zapata (Spanish, b.1940)
Residuos Históricos, 2008
Mixed media. Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Museum Purchase thanks to a gift from Dr. and Mrs. Bill R. Westgard, Cheryl Westgard Vogel (‘76) and Debra Westgard Keffer (’78) in loving memory of Peggy Denise Westgard (‘78).
Click on image to enlarge
The work of Miguel Zapata effortlessly bridges the gap between the art of the Spanish Golden Age and the second half of the twentieth century. Although often based on the appropriation of historical images, Zapata’s paintings are nonetheless undeniably contemporary in appearance.
Zapata was born in 1940 in Cuenca, Spain, a small town approximately two hours to the southeast of Madrid known for its “casas colgadas,” houses built in the fifteenth century that literally hang on the rocks above the Huecar River. It was in this environment, as well as in Madrid, Barcelona and Paris, that Zapata spent the majority of his formative years, finding himself amidst an abundance of historical influences on a daily basis. It seems only natural, then, that when he fully committed himself to an artistic career in the 1960s, his work reflected this constant exposure to images from the past. Zapata, however, was also greatly influenced by the generation of post—World War II European artists who preceded him, such as Antoni Tàpies, Antonio Saura, Manuel Millares and Alberto Burri. These artists were known for their expressionistic, non-objective styles that in many aspects paralleled the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1950s in the United States.
This binary source of influences echoes Zapata’s interest in the theories of the nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Specifically, Zapata looked to Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy, in which the philosopher expounds his theory on the dichotomy between the Apollonian and Dionysian. Using this duality as his starting point, Zapata expanded his practice to investigate other opposing themes as well, such as classical versus avant-garde, and figuration versus abstraction, both of which can be found within Residuos Históricos.
In the form of a tombstone, the top half of Residuos Históricos is comprised of a seated portrait of Pope Innocent X in bas-relief. This relatively traditional portrait, based on Velázquez’s Innocent X (1650), is surrounded by a variety of found elements that have been carefully incorporated into the work. Among these items is a piece of rusted scrap metal, the other half of which can be found in another of Zapata’s works currently located in his hometown of Cuenca, as well as graffiti-like chalk markings and painted lettering that seems to spell out the phrase “Deposit of artistic residue.”
HOURS: Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Thursday until 9:00 p.m., Sunday 1:00-5:00 p.m. Closed Monday.
ADMISSION: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65 and over, $4 for non-SMU students. Free for Museum members, children under 12, and SMU faculty, staff and students. Free Thursday evenings after 5:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Meadows Museum, 5900 Bishop Blvd., Dallas, TX 75205
CONTACT US: 214.768.2516 or send us an e-mail.