José Morea
José Morea was born in Chiva (València) in 1951. His first solo exhibitions date back to the mid-70s. He completed his studies with scholarships from the Ministry of Culture for Young Artists (1980), from the Casa de Velázquez of the City Council of València (1981) and the Ministry of Culture for the training of professionals in Arts and Cultural Industries (1984). His works have been exhibited in museum centers and galleries around the world, especially in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Latin America (Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil).
José Morea’s works are part of the funds of the most important art galleries in the Valencian Community (Museum of Fine Arts of València; IVAM; Villafamés Museum; Bancaja Foundation; Martínez Guerricabeitia Foundation), in Spain (National Museum - Art Center Reina Sofía; Spanish Museum of Contemporary Art; MACBA) and abroad (Museum of Contemporary Art of Recife; Museum of Contemporary Art of Bagheria; Salvador Allende Museum).


The Morea phenomenon
Pablo Ramírez
Among the Valencian painters who began to emerge from anonymity at the edge of the new decade, it is Morea who unquestionably has managed to cross more times the hermetic limits of the local sphere. To the indomitable and tireless fury of the painter for exhibiting his work –excessive for many–, we must unite, in justice, the clinical eye and the weighting –excessive for many– of a gallerist who, on this occasion and without being a precedent, has become a marchand again. And it is that nobody moderately attentive can miss today, that the Morea phenomenon, is due to the resurrection of a formula as old as modern art itself, the artist-marchand formula. Now is not the time to analyze the reasons that would explain the generalized oblivion in which the formula has fallen nowadays, although I can not resist pointing out that the young Valencian painting is beginning to resent this oblivion.
In this way, having resolved the last term of promotion that inevitably involves the equation of artistic professionalism, Morea is a privileged painter. But we must ask ourselves, what is it that has made him convincing in the eyes of a marchand?, or in other words, what makes him different from the others? In my opinion there are two aspects that, in a global sense, characterize Morea and that accurately adjust its authentic aesthetic dimension. First, its powerful narrative option. Morea decided to tell things in the painting, at a time when the painting and the painters, who were stubbornly committed to painting zero, counted very little.


From the beginning, Morea chose the path of autobiography, being the domestic universe, with its corners and prosaic objects, what first entered his paintings. The next step consisted in the construction of everyday characters and situations through their first-time objects. And only recently, a year or so ago, Morea used anatomy to give body to her characters. Today Morea keeps on telling in his paintings, with extroverted sincerity, the things that happen to him and if his paintings now turn out to be radically different from the first ones he painted, and even those of last year, it is because the painter has also changed.
There has been, among other things, a two-year stay in Madrid, at the Casa de Velázquez, which has served as a maturation and collection of new data. It has been in Madrid, for example, where he has abandoned domestic symbolism to plunge trivially into the symbolism of Egyptian iconography, which has lent him a new repertoire of fi gures capable of supporting his personal experiences.


The other aspect to which I referred earlier is given by his technical impudence. Morea decided to learn by daring, at a time when painters and critics were freezing the staff dazzled by the neo-academic mystics of the format, the glaze and the support. Morea chose to invent everything she ignored when she brushed brush. Maybe he was lucky enough to be self-taught and immunized by default against doctrines and recipes, but the fact is that he knew how to do it.
First, it was the grisaille, then the flat and pastel color and during the first year of Madrid began to introduce cultured quotes into the picture, that came from the pictorial tradition of this century. During the second year in the capital he dared to oil and reflected on the supports. In the present, the painting of Morea shows us –as a critical friend would say– more exultant than ever, with so much resource learned on the fly and resolved with self-confidence and immediacy.
Morea, let’s say it at once, has known how to anticipate the times. Today, Italians, Germans and Austrians have taught us not to blush at narrativity in painting and at learning by daring, the dimension of Morea can be valued with greater equity. Clairvoyance? Opportunism? I think that neither one nor the other, but an urgent painting that serves to give exhibitionist evidence of what has been lived.
I am aware, finally, that there are questions to be solved, some burrs to be polished, such as unreflective hyperproductivity, the indiscriminate furor to be exhibited, or the trickery to reclaim triviality. However, today the Morea phenomenon encompasses everything for the same price, and I do not know to what extent that is what has allowed a gallerist to become a marchand and what ultimately makes Morea different.