The Washington Post, in 1989, hailed Susana Solano as “one of the most gifted of contemporary Spanish sculptors.” She is characterized as an architectural and minimal sculptor, and many of her early works were influenced by Constantin Brancusi and Alberto Giacometti.
Born in 1946 in Barcelona, Solano studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona and started her art career as a painter. She gained recognition in the late 70’s when she began experimenting with sculpture. Solano crafts large geometric and abstract shapes by hand using glass, PVC, wood, plaster, iron, wire mesh, and lead. Often there are traces of her touch, like stains or scratches, visible on the surfaces of her sculptures. In a 1993 review for Art in America, Kim Bradley wrote, “Working with a minimalist vocabulary and industrial materials, this Spanish sculptor has produced a formal language that is surprisingly sensuous and evocative… Out of a severely limited range of materials Solano creates an almost painterly interplay of color, light and texture.”
Space plays a significant role in Solano’s sculptures by representing the accessible and inaccessible. Many of her works resemble open and closed forms like cupboards, cages, fences, or doorways. The Catalan titles of her works address space directly: No Te Pases (You Shall Not Pass), Ajuste en el Vacio (Adjustment in the Void), and Espai Ambulant (Movable Space). Other titles reference nature and domesticity: Hogar Dulce Hogar (Home Sweet Home), En Busca de un Paisaje (In Search of a Landscape), and Por el Sendero que Asciende hasta las Nubes (On the Path that Ascends to the Clouds). When working on a sculpture, Solano reflects on her memories of growing up outside of Barcelona. In a 1993 interview with Art Monthly, she explained “In relation to my work, references to childhood are always there. It is like wanting both to express these memories and yet to protect them. One is always looking back.”
Solano’s first solo exhibition was at the Joan Miró Foundation, Barcelona, in 1980, and included sewn-canvas wall hangings and sculptures made of brass and wood. Since then, she has exhibited extensively throughout Europe. Her first major exhibition in the United States was at the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh in 1988. That year, she also represented Spain in the 43rd Venice Biennale and won the National Prize of Plastic Arts of the Ministry of Culture. Her first retrospective was organized by Madrid’s Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in 1992. She has had exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C. and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Her work is held in the collections of the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and the Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain; the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh; and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. She is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. Susana Solano lives and works in Barcelona, Spain.