Xavier Mañosa at Galería Alegría

Artist: Xavier Mañosa

Exhibition title: Cowboy detrás de la puerta

Venue: Galería Alegría, Barcelona, Spain

Date: March 20 – May 15, 2021

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Galería Alegría, Barcelona

Freedom is a cowboy, ever galloping towards the horizon, but never quite getting there. Freedom is also the horizon itself, it is the horse, and the stable fence too. More than anything, freedom is what the child feels when doodling this cowboy in their notepad, while, deep inside, their own lust for adventure begins to emerge. Freedom is what Xavier Mañosa (Barcelona, 1981) offers in “Cowboy Behind the Door”, his second exhibition at Galería Alegría.

Xavier Mañosa, innovative ceramicist and founder of the remarkable workshop Apparatu, alongside his father Joan Mañosa, surprises us with an installation based on a drawing by his son. A two-dimensional cowboy awaits us, sitting on his horse, with all the simple greatness of a mere cowboy who’s escaped from a notepad. As we walk around a wall of 24 lead-glazed ceramic tiles, we come across this figure who reminds us that, sometimes, it’s good to look at things and accept that they are exactly as they seem.

The cowboy is held up by a ceramic structure, which is fascinating in its brutalism; Mañosa acknowledges the inherent curiosity of material shaped into a figure. Passing through the door and skirting round the leaden wall, the sheer surprise of encountering this stationary desert-centaur is part of the appeal of this unique, direct and compelling piece.

Following our cowboy, baked clay plates accompany us to the other side of the Pecos River. “Cowboy Behind the Door” evokes that childish joy of grabbing a pencil and scribbling until its lead wears down, over a non-stop, never-ending afternoon of drawings and stories.

This is an exhibition, therefore, that talks about art’s greatest quality: it can captivate us with a certain alchemy, bringing a doodle to life, as we question whether we are the ones who breathed life into it, or whether in fact it was already there, embedded in the figure’s material. And isn’t this the rare thrill that we ever seek, exhibition after exhibition, from when we are children until we too must ride into the sunset?