José Manuel Egea
José Manuel Egea, born in 1988 in Madrid, has been fascinated with the figure of the lycanthrope, or the werewolf, since his childhood. Not only is he convinced of being one himself, but he seems to want to reveal to us, through his works, that the double monstrosity lies beneath the surface for many of us, if not all of us.
In order to do this, he has developed a rich palette of representations of this “Other” that everyone harbors: from sketches to drawings on photographic portraits taken from magazines or art books, including sculpture and performances during which he “plays out” his transformation. This mythological creature is obviously the symbol of a blurry duality, but it embodies a great power at the same time, mysterious, and capable of exerting an influence on mankind, of inspiring fear in him. So what would be better, to exorcize it, than to play with this fear, to seek to become the fear itself, and to feel invested with its force?
It isn’t insignificant that Egea makes this dark side appear, especially using images printed on glossy paper whose only purpose was to seduce us. He conjures our bestiality there, made of shadowy and menacing silhouettes, enucleated eyes, triumphant hairiness and lupine attributes. And this is the reversal in the other side of the mirror. This iconoclasm can reach the gutter of the page, clear-cut, as if to accentuate the fracture between two worlds; sometimes even, it is the complete covering of the page, through which we can barely see, vanquished in the darkness, the fictitious beauty that these images impose on us.
José Manuel Egea gives himself over to liberating play since, even though he mangles our humanity, by freeing himself from the norm, he reveals the grandeurs of alterity to us in a pure and unrestrained artistic gesture.
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. In 2022, his work was featured in the exhibition Photo | Brut #2 at the Botanique in Brussels. His work is now part of several major European collections of contemporary art such as those of Antoine de Galbert, or Laurent Dumas.