Characterised by an old-Master draughtsmanship, the paintings and drawings of Miguel Condé are both intimate and monumental, evoking the majesty of murals whilst depicting scenes of private pleasures and secret rituals. The juxtaposition of mediaeval and contemporary elements in the composition often elicits surprise, stirring the viewer to question the meaning of these exquisitely rendered enigmatic images that portray a thing of beauty, impossible to describe.
Since 1969 Miguel Condé has lived in the coastal city of Sitges, whose limpid Mediterranean light has informed his paintings with a palette that recalls the painted rooms of old Bonampak or Giottos’s frescoes at Assissi. Structured with people in archaic costume, frozen in the performance of some arcane ritual, the paintings of Miguel Condé leap across the centuries to bring us a narrative deeply rooted in tradition yet clouded in mystery. Like the characters in a painting by Perugino or Bellini, they are presented theatrically, as on a proscenium, with the gravitas of ceremony that renders them universal, but we are unable to place them into any particular space in time. Although their powerful sexual tension brings to mind the work of Balthus, with whose work they share their deep atmospheric charge, Condé employs old master techniques to deftly draw the viewer into an unsettling and complex narrative, at once both timeless and contemporary, that seems to emanate from a collective memory and enables us to perceive them as a déjà vu, transcending any allusion to Klossowski or the Quattrocento masters.
Born in Pittsburgh in 1939 to an American mother and a Mexican father, Condé’s early years were spent shuttling between two cultures: one profoundly rational and the other steeped in mystery and mysticism, a binary education that can offer us clues to the ontological symbolism in his work. Although primarily self-taught, in the early 1960s he apprenticed in Paris with the greatest printmakers of their day, William Stanley Hayter and the Frélaut brothers at the Lacourière Studio, and he has continued to produce some of the most extraordinary intaglio prints of his generation, culminating in livres d’artiste and portfolio editions that have received the accolades and awards of numerous institutions. As a master draughtsman he taught drawing at the University of Iowa and, since 1958, his work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across Europe and America. His work can be found in the collections of the Albertina Museum, Vienna; the Art Institute of Chicago; The Vatican Library; La Bibliotèque Nationale de France; the Brooklyn Museum; La Calcografía Nacional, Madrid; the Cleveland Museum; the Reina Sofia (MNCARS); the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC amongst others.