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Francisco Mantecón. Untitled, 1990. Private Collection
Francisco Mantecón. Untitled, 1984. The Artist’s Family Collection
Francisco Mantecón. Untitled, 1984. The Artist’s Family Collection
Francisco Mantecón. Untitled, 1981. Private Collection
Francisco Mantecón. Untitled, 1998. The Artist’s Family Collection
Francisco Mantecón. Untitled, 1986. The Artist’s Family Collection
Francisco Mantecón. Untitled, 1990. The Artist’s Family Collection
Francisco Mantecón. Untitled, 1986. The Artist’s Family Collection
Francisco Mantecón. Untitled, 1981. Private Collection
Francisco Mantecón. Untitled, 1987. ABANCA Art Collection
Francisco Mantecón. Untitled, 1987. CGAC, Santiago de Compostela Collection
Francisco Mantecón. Untitled, 1988. Spanish Contemporary Art Collection Gas Natural Fenosa

FRANCISCO MANTECÓN. Passion and Calculus


23 January 2015 - 31 May 2015
Ground-floor galleries
Tuesdays to Saturdays (including bank holidays): 11.00 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and 5.00 to 9.00 p.m. Sundays: 11.00 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. Closed on Mondays
MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo / Fundación Luis Seoane, A Coruña
Ángel Cerviño & Alberto González Alegre


Under the title Passion and Calculus, this exhibition project, co-produced by MARCO de Vigo and the Luis Seoane Foundation and curated by Ángel Cerviño and Alberto González-Alegre, is conceived as a survey of a part of the professional career of artist and designer Francisco Mantecón (Vigo, 1948–2001). The selection of works focuses on the series of paintings produced in his maturity, in the eighties and nineties.


Once the exhibition closes in Vigo it will travel to the Luis Seoane Foundation (Corunna), co-producer of the show, where it may be visited as from June 2015.


Francisco Mantecón. Paixón e cálculo
. Vigo, Editorial Galaxia, 2015

Francisco Mantecón. Passion and Calculus is a project that unfolds in exhibition and book form. On occasion of the show, Editorial Galaxia (a firm of which Mantecón was a renowned collaborator) has published a book under the same title. Several authors (Francisco Sampedro, Antonio Doñate & X., Carlos Hidalgo, Manolo Figueras, Vítor Mejuto, Roque Lazcano Vázquez, Mar Vicente and Manolo Moldes), along with the curators of the exhibition and the directors of MARCO and the Luis Seoane Foundation, examine Mantecón's figure and trajectory through pictures of his works and a selection of quotations by the artist taken from press interviews published between 1976 and 1994.

It is quite significant that even in these early decades of the 21st century, one of the paradigms of historical avant-gardes of the last century — the geometric refinement of shapes — still promotes the most diverse contemporary art practices in traditional media — painting and sculpture — and in the post-minimal and conceptual versions of the misplaced and expanded artistic object. The topicality of Mantecón’s work is out of question here: many young Galician artists — perhaps not fully aware of that line of continuity —, still follow the guidelines so magnificently exposed and developed by the master of geometric abstraction.

Since the very beginning, Mantecón attempts to express the most with the least, and he will continue refining, through each painting, the motives and the resources: "I'm removing elements off the painting, and I am running out of painting!." Tireless explorer of the grid implicit in the canvas, a lifetime was not enough for him to map its microcosm. His legacy is now perhaps more alive than ever, now that, again, winds of crisis watch us from the distance; now that the vocation of synthesis and of returning to the essential seem to prevail in the form of overwhelming needs to the youngest creators, who reopen ways and draw lines of research on the pure geometric materiality of the work, subsequently leading to intertwine in many directions with the paths that once Mantecón subtly outlined.


Donation of the Francisco Mantecón Library

Bibliographical display of a selection of publications from the Francisco Mantecón Library

  • Dates: from 23 January to 31 May 2015
  • Place: Library and Documentation Centre (1st floor)
  • Opening hours: Tuesdays to Fridays from 11.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and from 5.00 to 9.00 p.m. (except bank holidays)

The bibliographical works in this display are from a donation made in 2011 by the artist's widow Pilar Barreiro Mosquera to the MARCO Library and Documentation Centre. A careful selection of the most important works in the artist's library has been made for this exhibition, including publications that are out of print, books on the social theory of art and specific volumes on graphic design and abstract art. Thanks to the classification and archival work carried out on the collection, all the works in the library are available to researchers in the Library and Documentation Centre. Furthermore, in order to complete the picture of Mantecón's work, the display includes a dossier on the artist's presence in the digital world, a biography and catalogues from the Library and Documentation Centre. This information is available in the library and at the website.


A complementary activity to the exhibition Francisco Mantecón. Passion and Calculus

Over the next few months the MARCO educational programme will focus on the Mantecón exhibition, organising workshops and other activities related to the works on display.

  • School visits and workshops: Tuesdays to Fridays from 11.00 a.m. to 1.30 p.m., by appointment only. For bookings, call 986 113904/00
  • Family workshops (suitable for children aged 3+): Saturdays and Sundays from 12.00 noon to 2.00 p.m.


The gallery staff welcomes queries from visitors regarding the exhibition and offers the usual guided tours:

  • Daily tours at 6.00 p.m.
  • À la carte group tours, by appointment only. For bookings, call 986 113900


At MARCO de Vigo and the Luis Seoane Foundation we believe the moment has come to look back at the oeuvre of Francisco Mantecón. The curators of the show consider Mantecón a key artist whom time has proved right. Yet on the other hand, we realise that time has never questioned him, for Mantecón clung to his obsessions regardless of trends.

Francisco Mantecón always focused on a concept in order to glean its potential. He wasn't an artist given to brusque changes but rather to slight variations. He soon chose to avoid figures and encompass space, moving towards a constructivist type of abstraction. He sought for the warmth of geometry and, following a studied austerity, introduced slight graphic licences, more spontaneous, that took the impenetrability of his painting, always clean and conceptually loyal, back to its starting point. Secure in what is seemingly simple, with no space for chance, as we were saying he didn't follow trends. As in Webern's music, one of his passions, in Mantecon's painting we can distinctly hear each rigorous note. This explains his increasing interest in pencil as a support for painting, as an element for tempering it.

Francisco Mantecón took part in the emblematic exhibitions in the history of Galician art, some of them now considered legendary. A leading figure in the early shows held at Plaza de la Princesa since the late sixties, Mantecón took part in the first Pontevedra Biennale, in the most important shows of the Atlántica group, in the symbolic Images of the 80s from Galicia at the Museo do Pobo Galego, in the first Unión Fenosa Exhibition, and in The Abstract Process in Galicia: 30 Years. 1950-1980 at the Auditorio de Galicia. Melancholy and solitary in his task, his perfectionist spirit would lead him to the field of graphic design, in which he worked above all for Galaxia publishing house (in collaboration with Manuel Janeiro), and for Edicións Xerais, Edicións do Cumio, Ir Indo Edicións and Edicións Sotelo Blanco, among others. In the same field he produced splendid examples of labels for Terras Gauda wine bottles, packaging for Conservas Alfageme tinned food, the Metropol logotype, and posters for political parties and trade unions.

The exhibition we are now presenting assembles approximately one hundred works from public collections and over thirty private collectors, which reflects the impact and extension of his work. An artist with so many links to the city of Vigo, not only to its art circles but also to its publishing industry and its business sector, deserves the chance to be discovered by younger generations. This exhibition and the accompanying book published by Editorial Galaxia, along with the select bibliography presented at MARCO's Library and Documentation Centre, most of which comes from the works donated by his widow Pilar Barreiro Mosquera in 2011, are an excellent opportunity for them to do so.

Curatorial text

We speak of concrete and not abstract painting because nothing is more concrete, more real than a line, a colour, a surface. /.../ The picture should be constructed entirely from purely plastic elements, that is to say, planes and colours. A pictorial element has no other significance than 'itself', and therefore the picture has no other significance than 'itself'.

Theo Van Doesburg. Art Concret, Paris 1930


It is highly significant that even in these first decades of the twenty-first century, one of the paradigms of the avant-garde trends of the past century, i.e. the geometric reduction of forms, should still stimulate a wide range of contemporary artistic practices in traditional media (painting and sculpture) and in post-minimal and conceptual versions of displaced and expanded artistic objects. In this sense, the validity of Francisco Mantecón's oeuvre is indisputable: many young Galician artists, perhaps without being fully aware of the continuity, are still exploring paths and establishing lines of research into the pure geometric materiality of forms that intersect with the areas defined by Mantecón.

As a result, over and above strictly historical issues and the necessary revision of the immediate past, we consider his oeuvre totally up to date as a research field for young artists. The primary structure of his works is geometrical, but their final results, their previous processes and rational analysis transcend geometry and reveal how passion, unease and protest are inserted between the lines of the set square and transform geometric rigour into discourse.

From the very beginning, Mantecón strove to express the maximum with the minimum, reducing motifs and resources in each successive painting: 'I'm taking elements out of the picture and ending up without a picture at all.' Formal rigour and ideological commitment: the rationality that is impressing itself on the world (in life's actions, great and small, in the production of objects and, especially, in the production of social forms of behaviour) is the ideological complement to the geometrisation of the arts. The formal tensions of the works reflect the political tensions of society as they represent the task of solving the psychic tensions inside us. The works thus become scale models of the soul, artefacts that operate as signifying machines.

A tireless explorer of the grid implicit in the canvas (a genuine microcosm he spent his whole life trying to map), Mantecón was, above all, a key dissident figure. In fact, his dissidence made him even more of an important figure in the new trends that were running through painting in the last decades of the twentieth century. His legacy is perhaps stronger than ever, now that winds of crisis are blowing again on the horizon; now that the vocation for synthesis and the return to essentials seem to impose themselves on us as pressing needs.

Passion and Calculus is intended to preserve the current validity and the future projection of Francisco Mantecón's pictorial oeuvre. This unavoidable point of departure, along with the logical limitations of the exhibition space, explains the absence in the show of a few series of works belonging to his early years of training, and even to the start of his more personal pursuits. For the same reasons, his works in the fields of graphic and publication design fall outside of the scope of this exhibition, as they require urgent revision and specific research on account of their magnitude and relevance that highlight their contribution to the renewal of the visual ordering of our surroundings.

From the strict perspective of rediscovering a transcendental artist for our most recent pictorial practices, this exhibition focuses preferably on the series of pictures created outside the time frame of what we could consider the main decades of his career (the eighties and nineties), shortly before his untimely death prevented us from knowing how far Francisco Mantecón would have gone in the progressive refinement of his formal and conceptual universe.

Ángel Cerviño and Alberto González-Alegre
Curators of the exhibition


Ángel Cerviño & Alberto González Alegre


Some years ago, Ángel Cerviño and Alberto González-Alegre, plastic artist and art critic respectively, both of whom have a long career, decided to join forces and create an inseparable unity for curatorial action. Francisco Mantecón. Passion and Calculus is the fourth exhibition project resulting from this collaboration; their previous projects were Casus belli. Refutation of Context (Auditorio de Galicia, Santiago de Compostela, 2011), In Full Faculties. Artist-Teachers at the Pontevedra Fine Arts College (Museo de Pontevedra, 2013), The Sketch of the World (MARCO, Luis Seoane Foundation, Auditorio de Galicia, 2013), and Carlos León. The Order of the First Things (CGAC, Santiago de Compostela, 2014).