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Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo
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Manuel Barbadillo.
Arte combinatoria

Dates: April 21 - October 8, 2023
Curator: Pepe Yñiguez y Yolanda Torrubia
Coordinator: Javier Corro
: South Cloister

Barbadillo (Cazalla de la Sierra, Seville, 1929–Málaga, 2003), was a painter who saw what he
thought and realized that his work was not an artistic opus but a plantation, a forest so dense and
complex in its orderly disorder that one had to lose oneself in it, at least a little bit, and perhaps even settle down there. This exhibition traces a unique creative career in the recent history of Spanish Contemporary Art, the career of an artist who pioneered the creative use of computers and, more importantly, conducted an in-depth investigation into the fundamental essence of art linked to science and the religious beliefs of ancient times, when wisdom and magic were united in ritual.

His personal quest was related to the geometric abstractions that aspired to overcome the subjective, individualistic vision of Art Informel. Those abstractions, called “normative” because of their insistence on the use of reason and moderation, even tried to apply their proposals to everyday life, as if in a last-ditch attempt to model their ideal utopian society.

Barbadillo’s stay in Morocco in the late 1950s and his sense of being close to the purity of a source
that predated art and culture in vernacular architecture and folk music, on the one hand, and his
introduction to cybernetics (what is now termed artificial intelligence), the science of controlling and
communicating information in new machines and living organisms, on the other, informed his subsequent oeuvre.

During his time in North America, he strove to express the impressions received in Morocco through
matter-rich Informel works which he found unsatisfactory upon returning to Spain in 1963, prompting a geometric organization of forms separate from formless matter. Rejecting matter led to his first geometric attempts, in which he also rejected colour in order to concentrate on reason, order and rhythm. In the process, Barbadillo discovered a simple binary yet complementary form that he would use throughout his mature period: the module.

The module is where spirit and guts, body and soul converge in a current of energy that renews itself every second yet always remains the same. Geometry, the revealed number of the Pythagoreans, steeped in reason and mysticism, inspired a body of work in which the computer was merely a tool for generating the results of all the combinations to which the module was subjected; but it was the artist’s intuition—his poetic reason, as María Zambrano would say—which chose the definitive configuration that led to the painting where the idea of a simultaneously ancient and future order resided.

The different stages of Barbadillo’s prolific career were marked by the emergence of new modules and how they combined and interacted with others.


elemento visual


Exhibition Labels [Leaflet]

Nota de prensa [Press Dossier (In Spanish)]

Álbum en flickr [High Resolution Images]

Álbum en flickr [Photo Album on Flickr]



Manuel Barbadillo. Arte combinatoria

Manuel Barbadillo. Arte combinatoria

Manuel Barbadillo. Arte combinatoria




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