Esteban Vicente at Miles McEnery

Miles McEnery Gallery celebrates the late Spanish painter Esteban Vicente with a stunning exhibition presented in their flagship gallery in NYC. Vicente left Europe (he lived in Madrid, Barcelona and Paris) for New York City in 1936. The United States became the artist’s permanent home and working space. His contemporaries and associates included Willem de Kooning (their 10th Street studios were on a shared floor), Elaine de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko, among other luminaries.

The artist’s seventh solo exhibition is on view on view until 26 August 2022 and is accompanied by a great catalogue featuring an essay by abstract artist Tom McGlynn.

“Esteban Vicente belonged to a generation of artists who were true believers in the salutary effects of abstract painting. As a first-generation Abstract Expressionist, he shared with colleagues such as Mark Rothko and Philip Guston a sense that the lyrical in abstract art has the potential to immediately address the heart, soul, and mind of the viewer. It’s a working idea that the candor of subjective sincerity might find a way to speak to the grandeur of objective truth. Each artist of that generation found their way toward such an ambitious goal through intense introspection and formal experimentation in the studio, which consequently revealed the exact nature of the artist’s individual temperament. Some cleaved broodily while others cleaved lyrically,” McGlynn said.

The works in this survey, all produced within the last decade of Vicente’s life, offer an encapsulated view of formal tropes that defined his broad career. Being later works, they retain an ultimate, yet not exactly final, authority, since the artist characteristically suggests with each of his canvases a jumping-off point for the next. “There’s a youthful, restless quality evident in the studious inventions of these late works. Perhaps the greatest lesson Vicente has left for us is the idée fixe of constant painterly evolution.”

Born in Turégano, Spain in 1903, Vicente began at the School of Fine Arts of the Real Academia de San Fernando in Madrid at fifteen. As a young man living in Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris, he developed friendships with artists and writers. In 1928, he had his first exhibition with Juan Bonafé at the Ateneo de Madrid.

Image: Esteban Vicente, Untitled #5, 1998. Oil on canvas, 42 x 52 inches, 106.7 x 132.1 cm.