In their faces and demanding a reaction, the street sculptures of José Abad took their place in the shopping heart of Santa Cruz. Bargain hunters stood and scratched their heads, children prodded and poked them and even dogs were wary of offering them an impromptu shower. This was just the advance party for an invasion of 400 works of art by a La Laguna artist who at 69 years old has unleashed his intricate genius on his own doorstep.
Eros, Formas Y Azar (sexual behaviour, form and change) is the provocative title of a lifetime’s collection being displayed until 28 January at two galleries in Santa Cruz and one in La Laguna. At first glance the sculptures in front of Plaza del Principe look like they have been there for years, the iron used in Josés’s work gives it that stark weather beaten look making it more approachable than a bright shiny new addition. The sexual symbolism in one of the more striking pieces caused people to do a double take, all part of the intended effect.
Intrigued I made the short move into the Espacio Cultural Caja Canarias, the bank’s Obra Social division are supporting the season as they do with many arts projects. The smaller works were no less impressive, and spread over the two floors of the display area the sheer scale of the artists work became apparent. Roughly split into subject zones, the work ranges from building designs through animal studies like Gatos Enfrentados (below) and even a few traditional portraits. Unlike previous exhibitions this one overflows into the downstairs large high ceiling display room where African and baroque works are big, bold and carved in wood in painstaking detail like Retablo de San Blas.
Back upstairs a video room shows an interview with the artist unlocking some of his inspirations. José Abad embraced all the arts including poetry, theatre, and painting but it was sculpture that captured his imagination and led him to study in Perugia, Italy and Madrid before exhibiting his work across mainland Spain. José pioneered outdoor sculpture in Santa Cruz, Las Palmas, Malaga and Cadiz and there are several trails of work in the Tenerife capital.
Suitably impressed by the first indoor display I thought I would see what the Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes could add to the mix. The pink rooms of the gallery behind Plaza Principe made a contrasting backdrop to the smaller close up earlier works from the mid 1960’s. José’s eye for detail and the odd surprising twist were again in evidence but base materials like wood and metal were once again his starting point for expression.The Sala de Arte Juan Cas in La Laguna completes the gallery based collection and wasn’t joining in the exhibition until a week later but it contains the most up to date works, much of it untitled, and a selection of written charts.
Sculptures with a subdued industrial look hardly sound exciting but José Abad adds plenty of mischief and humour to his work and they are all visually stimulating. Maybe taking them all in at once could lead to artistic indigestion but they are here for a few months so dip in and learn a bit more about a home grown Tenerife talent.
José Abad ““ Eros, Formas Y Azar 17 October to 28 January 2012
Espacio Cultural Caja Canarias, Plaza del Patriotismo, Santa Cruz
Monday to Wednesday 11 to 1 pm, and 5 to 9pm
Thursday and Friday 11 to 1pm, and 5 to 8pm
Saturday 11 to 2pm, and 5 to 8pm
Entry Caja Canarias clients free, residents 2 euros, others 5 euros
Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes, Calle Jose Murphy, Santa Cruz
Tuesday to Friday 10 to 8 pm
Saturday & Sundays 10 to 3 pm
Sala de Arte Juan Cas
Plaza de la Concepcion, La Laguna
Monday to Friday 11 to 1pm and 5 to 9pm
Saturday 11 to 2pm and 5 to 8pm