José Manuel Egea
Convinced of his magical ability to become a wolf, this young artist from Madrid is fascinated by the Kafkaesque metamorphosis found in the world of comics and mythology. As polymorphic as he is, his work consists of drawings, sculptures and performances, and urges us to accept our own repressed gifts for shape-shifting. Promoted by the gallery since 2016, he had a major show that same year by the Biennale de l’image possible in Liège, Belgium. His work is now part of several major European collections of contemporary art such as those of Antoine de Galbert, or Laurent Dumas.
José Manuel Egea is a great supporter, since the age of 10, of Marvel Comics superheroes, and more particularly of Jack Russel, the werewolf.
The transformation of the human being into the beast, from human kind to a powerful and terrible creature, fascinates him. It is the heart of all his work produced since 2010 in the center of creation «debajo del sombrero» (under the hat), that receives people with learning disability.
Most of the time, he composes using characters found in magazines that he transforms in wolf, covering the image with ballpoint pen until they disappear, making way for the monster.
In observing the images closely, we see that the direction and the intensity of the stroke of the pen or marker is fundamental for provoking the emergence of the beast. Egea does not settle for covering the image in black. Rather, it is about invoking the animal that lies within the subject of the portrait and that struggles to get out. The lines are made in the direction that the hair flows from the face. The lines are made with great amounts of force, leaving a trace in the battered paper. Transcending its apparent smoothness, transforming it, as well.
For Egea, it is not difficult to connect with the wolfness – as he himself calls it – that resides beneath the appearance of people. He knows it well, thanks to his own fits during which his need to howl in order to calm himself down and his passion for tearing up all sorts of things, especially his clothes, manifest themselves.
There is also a series of words or phrases that attract him and that he mysteriously repeats while drawing: androgynous, birth, transformation, machistar (‘to make macho’), attaching wolfness to an adolescent he becomes half man half wolf, remaining black forever, homonids – it seems that homonids scare him very much.
Preface : Graciela Garcia & Bruno Dubreuil
Foreword : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition José Manuel Egea : lycanthropos, from September 3rd to October 15th, 2016.
Revised and expanded version published in 2022.