Carmen Calvo’s output began to receive substantial recognition when her work (along with that of Joan Brossa) was shown in the Spanish Pavilion at the 1997 Venice Biennale. The artist has very few positive memories of her academic training at the School of Fine Arts in Valencia; it was her later life experience that came to shape her aesthetic modus operandi. Calvo lived in Madrid from 1983 to 1985 and then decided to move to Paris, where she resided until 1992. But her love affair with the metropolis goes back much further, to 1972, when the Valencian artist was amazed to discover her passion for archaeology during a visit to the Louvre. Her long stay in Paris is also reflected in the paintings she produced in the late 1980s, which are replete with references to the visual and imaginary landscape of the French capital, home to the Père-Lachaise Cemetery. Calvo was a frequent visitor to the burial ground, which is virtually unmatched for its literary and artistic adornment. In her object-oriented work, which is full of ex-votos and religious and sexual amulets, one can note the pleasure she derives from all things necrological. The influence of the Surrealists and Joan Miró is also apparent. In 1994, Calvo produced ceramic pieces at the European Ceramic Work Centre in the Netherlands. The work built on her extensive experience in this field and offered another way for her to take a stand against painting, the academic and traditional discipline par excellence. The recovery and appropriation of objects and images of the past (photographs, fragments of magazines and so on) from cast-off materials and second-hand goods dealers has been a constant in her work in recent years. With these elements, she has created a personal poetics which she uses to explore, with subtlety and irony, the weight of religion and the enjoyment of sexuality.
Juan Vicente Aliaga