Nicolás de Maya
Cehegín / Murcia / Spain / Bordn 1967
Nicolás de Maya in his home and studio in old town Cehegín.
NICOLÁS DE MAYA, painter and sculptor: “I was impressed by the Huichol people, the last guardians of peyote, which is a cactus from which the strongest acid that exists is obtained.”
Nicolás de Maya has already been established as a successful international artist. Madrid, Seville, London and Mexico are some of the cities in which he has exhibited his works. Moreover, his latest works include the creation of a six-meter-high horse sculpture which is adorning a great avenue in Guadalajara / Mexico.
Nicolás de Maya was born in 1967 in Cehegín / Murcia / Spain. He is considered a multidisciplinary artist whose interest in art was early awakened and whose creations are the result of a constant artistic evolution.
His beginnings are linked to the pictorial creation. He has not disconnected from this creation and it floods much of his artistic production. A constant in his work is to be founded on a complex and mature discourse without totally abandoning form and imagination in his production, but conceptualism is a feature of his works. The concept may appear in a more evident manner and can be shown through the form, or it can be related to the idea itself. In the creative process of each work, the evolution of the final idea is highlighted in the artistic creation, and his creations are subject to a process of reflection always in constant search for the essence of an idea and how to convey it.
Because of this personal form of creation and exploration of concepts, he has been considered an important and significant figure from an early age, always strong in his mature and complex discourse, which is full of deep thought and reflections about the human being and our lives.
2015/ “Space Between Two Lines ” / Traveling Lorca, Cartagena, Murcia, Spain
2012/” To Be ” – MUBAM, Museum Fine Art Murcia / Murcia, Spain
2011/ “ Our Skin ” – Exhibition Hall / Blanca, Murcia, Spain
2010/ “ Eternal Spring ” – Gallery Espacio Nolde / Madrid, Spain
2009/ “ Naturally ” – Gallery La Aurora / Murcia, Spain
2008/ “ In Game ” – Gallery Espacio Nolde / Madrid, Spain
2006/ “ Detectives History “ / Cehegín, Murcia, Spain
2005/ “ New Spaces “ – Gallery Factor Arte / Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
2004/ “ Largest Sea – Smaller Sea “ / San Javier, Murcia, Spain
2003/ “ Equus caballus “ – Jesús Álvarez del Castillo Foundation / Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
2002/“ The Thought Makes Memory “ – Gallery Espacio Nolde / Madrid, Spain
2001/ “ Domestic Absence “ – Cultural Center / Ceuti, Murcia, Spain
1999/ “ Contents.com “ – Press Association / Murcia, Spain
1998 / Valeri Knightsbribge Gallery / London, United Kingdom
1997/ “ Great Success ” – Gallery Atelier / Barcelona, Spain
1994-95/ Gallery Babel / Murcia, Spain
2015/ ” 17 Contemporary Visions ” – National Museum of Ceramics / Valencia, Spain
2015/ ” Way of the Cross ” – Bishop’s Palace, Murcia Cathedral / Murcia, Spain
2014/ ” Burial of the sardine posters ” – Casino Royal of Murcia / Murcia, Spain
2013/ ” Equus, Dream of the Man “- Gallery Nolde / Madrid, Spain
2010/ “ Art Fair ART MADRID “ / Madrid, Spain
2010/ “ Under the Sun to East “ Architects Professional Association / Murcia, Spain
2009/ “ United for Children “ – Gallery La Aurora / Murcia, Spain
2007/ “ Goya 6 x 20 Nonsense – The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery / London, United Kingdom
2006/ “ Illustration “ Detectives History of Juan Marsé, Editorial AHORA – International Art Fair ARCO / Madrid, Spain
2005/ “ I Want to See Blood “ – Former Convent of the Carmen / Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
2005/ “ Bullfighting “ – Gallery Nolde / Madrid, Spain
2003/ International Art Fair / Miami, E.E.U.U.
2001/ “ To Looks on the City V “ – Museum of the City / Murcia, Spain
2001/ “ Work World Creativity “ – Mainel Foundation / Valencia and Madrid, Spain
2000/ “ Figuración “ – Alte Schieberkammer / Vienna, Austria
2000/ “ Art and Astronomy, visión of the year 2000 “- Catello Ducale de Fiano / Rome, Italy
2000/ “ Meeting “ / Guanajuato, Mexico
1999/ Biennial Exhibition of Florence / Italiy
1999/ International Art Fair – Gallery Santo Ficara / Bologna, Italy
1998/ “ Our Portraits ” – Palace of San Esteban / Murcia, Spain
1998/ “ Peregrination “, “ Contemporary Art in Murcia ” / Palma de Mallorca, Spain
1997/ Art Gallery / Bruges, Belgium
1997/ Artexpo – International Art Fair / Barcelona, Spain
1996/ Artexpo – International Art Fair / Barcelona, Spain
1996/ Gallery Duato / Amsterdam, Holland
1995/ Oriel Theatre, Mold-Clwyd / Wales, United Kingdom
1995/ History Institute / Lancaster, United Kingdom
1995/ Interarte, International Art Fair – Gallery Babel / Valencia, Spain
1994/ “ Spanish Contemporary Realism” – Gallery Heller / Madrid, Spain
1994/ “ Lithographic Engravings “ – Gallery Brita Prin / Madrid, Spain
2015/ ” Soul in Balance ” – KBK Aravaca / Madrid, Spain
2014/ ” Knowledge ” – El Pilar de la Horadada / Alicante, Spain
2012/ ” Thinker of the Wind ” – El Pilar de la Horadada / Alicante, Spain
2011/ “ Level Crossing ” / El Vergel, Alicante, Spain
2011/ “Universal” – El Pilar de la Horadada / Alicante, Spain
2011/ “ Recovering our Memory ” – Sculptural Mural / Cehegín, Murcia, Spain
2011/ “ To Walk “ / Cehegín, Murcia, Spain
2008/ “ Meeting ” / Ceramic Mural / Balsicas, Murcia, Spain
2006/ “ Equus Caballus “ / Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
2007/ “ Weavers of Light ” / Cehegín, Murcia, Spain
2007/ ” Profile of a Land “ / San Javier, Murcia, Spain
Works in collections
_Town Hall of Murcia
_Autonomous Region / Murcia, Spain
_Philipe Cousteau Foundation / Madrid, Spain
_Town Hall of Ceutí / Murcia, Spain
_Town Hall of Cehegín / Murcia, Spain
_Jesús Álvarez del Castillo Foundation / Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
_ Town Hall of San Javier / Murcia, Spain
_ GMG Foundation / Murcia, Spain
2011/ ” Extreme Situation ” – NMAC Foundation / Vergel de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain
2011/ “ Sacred Wood ” – Artistic Project LUGANO, Pilar de la Horadada / Alicante, Spain
2011/ Sculpture for the MAPFRE Foundation – Prize 2011 / Madrid, Spain
2010/ “ Devour me . l´m Your Dream More Greedy ” – Festival of Art and Multimedia Rendibú 2010 / Murcia / Spain
2010/ “ Holidays in Eleven Words ” – Contemporary Art Festival Fáctor 10 / Torrevieja, Alicante, Spain
2006/ “Historias de detectives” – Edition of Bibliophily / Juan Marsé, Pere Gimferrer, Nicolás de Maya.
Nicolás de Maya is an excellent painter and sculptor who wouldn’t hurt a fly; however, he was almost kidnapped in Mexico.
What have you done?
I have been in very dangerous places. My curiosity gets the better of me.
What do you not understand?
The amount of silly things that can be done at stag parties.
What are you not?
I am not a saint, nor a playboy.
What do you have?
A dark side.
What have you discovered?
That I am very crazy; it is not noticeable, but I am.
What was amazing?
The show I organized when giving the opening speech for the festivals in my hometown. 1500 people ended up crying with emotion, and the applause was so great that I did not know where to hide. During the projection of an audiovisual I made for the occasion, I was at the same time creating a work in front of the audience, canvas by canvas and using my hands directly with clay made from soil and water from the Argos and Quípar rivers. In the end, all the lights were turned out and a spotlight illuminated the huge sculpture of the Virgin of the Maravillas that I had created. Her appearance on stage was spectacular, unexpected, people were really amazed.
What has been said lately?
That one must break with everything. In fact, I have been breaking many works. I am crazy about breaking. If you think of it, what is it all about? Life is so ephemeral that it passes without you realizing it. Any day I will die, worms will eat me; these worms will die, and so on.
Well, nothing, I feel obliged to live the present to the fullest. Everything I have to do, I try to make it enjoying to the maximum.
When do you get nervous?
When I get letters from the bank.
I have it full of ideas all day. It is a hive of activity. And it bothers me not being able to make all the many things that come to mind. The truth is I mess around a lot.
What do you not run out of?
The curiosity about everything, my curiosity gets the better of me. The other day, I was driving and I thought I saw vultures. I stopped the car and began to follow them. I do not know the time it took to get to the place [in the countryside of Lorca] in which more than fifty vultures were devouring the remains of a pig. I stayed there watching the scene for almost three hours.
What do you remember of your childhood?
That I belonged to a gang that you joined after passing some tests. It was the same in all the other gangs in town.
What were those tests?
Killing a dog or a cat, stealing apricots, things like that. I have war marks on my head of the stones that the kids from other gangs threw at me. I was in the gang of the ‘cheap homes’; we fought against those of the ‘bullring’, the ‘old town’ … Throwing stones at each other was taken very seriously, we wanted to hit, it was no sissy thing.
What is really sad?
Now it is very difficult to see a child playing in the street.
What stuck in your mind?
The birth of my son [Nicolás is now seven]. I was overwhelmed, it was as if I had received a blow on the head. I woke up to the harsh reality: now there was someone in this world who depended on me. It was no longer a question of earning a living just for me; the life of my son was also dependent on me.
And what about your child now?
He would like his name not to be Nicolás, like me, so as to have its own name. He is very independent, very handsome—he resembles his mother—, and he is going to be quite a character. He goes to the studio alone—I have never told him to take a brush—and there he makes his sculptures and drawings. He never asks what I think of them. And he likes reading a lot, he amazes me.
What were you never?
A spoilt brat. I paid for my studies. At seventeen, I started to make a living by working in canneries or in bars. I have never said, ‘Dad, I haven´t got a penny, please send me some money!’
What do you think?
I think that I must have a kind of ADHD [Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder]. Only when I am painting, I get to concentrate exclusively on what I’m doing. But, for example, when I’m talking to someone, I can’t help to think of a thousand things at the same time.
What can no one imagine about you?
That I have very acute hearing and, sometimes, I am in a restaurant and I listen to the conversation of those at the corner table; they can’t imagine that.
What are you tired of?
First, politics; and I’m a little tired of everyone having become accustomed to living under a mask, to accepting falsehood, deceit and hypocrisy as completely normal. I often isolate myself and do not let anyone see me; I do not want to get into the game.
What is a great truth?
That Mexico has been the great discovery of my life. I worked there for several years [a Mexican patron who was interested in his work commissioned him to make some works—paintings and sculptures—and organized several exhibitions]. There, something new happens every day, and you feel really alive. People say goodbye each day as if the world was going to end. They are very passionate, very visceral and tremendous; everything is ‘dude, dude, and dude!’ If they love you, they love you until death and beyond, and if you betray them, ‘I’ll kill you, I’ll kill you and I’ll kill you!’
What surprised you?
They drink until they fall down.
What did you learn there?
I learnt very much indeed. Sometimes I was with a multimillionaire—traveling in his private plane to watch rodeos in deepest Mexico—and other times, with the nastiest mob of the world in the seediest bars of the universe. I experienced things that still seem like a dream.
As soon as I arrived in Guadalajara, a person came to take me to the house that they had prepared for me, and this person had, as something completely normal, a gun and a pair of handcuffs in the passenger seat. I sat in the rear seat, and during a moment when he got out of the car and left me there, some police officers carrying their submachine guns arrived, and, over a loudspeaker, they told me to get out of the car very slowly and to put my hands on top of the car immediately. I was terrified, I couldn’t believe it. I was so nervous that I showed them the store credit card from ‘El Corte Ingles’. They thought that I was stealing or whatever.
I was amazed by the house that they had ready for me; it was so large that it was impossible to walk all over it, and it was full of exotic birds and monkeys; it also had huge windows because it was on a cliff next to a lush green valley. I was astonished. There were two security guards with big guns which they called ‘Lupita’, and I had a staff of seven people who called me ‘Mr. Nico’.
What impressed you most of your stay in Mexico?
Being with the Huichol people, the last guardians of peyote, which is a cactus from which the strongest acid that exists is obtained. Along with a Mexican teacher, I do not know how I ended up attending ceremonies with shamans and participating in a ritual to find the entrances to the Underworld. I was also amazed by the Paricutin volcano [in Michoacán]. Likewise, I enjoyed the ceremony called ‘blue deer’. This is a hunt which participants attend in a trance; when they return, you wouldn’t believe the party they throw. I was one week without smoking, eating just what the Huichols gave me, and with my face burnt by the sun. I will never forget it.
Did you feel fear?
I was frightened on one occasion in which I was almost kidnapped in Mexico City when I was leaving a nightclub. They thought that I was a wealthy Spaniard and came after me for ransom. I noticed two cars following me and I tried to lose them at full speed, but they wouldn’t give up. I was more and more doing crazy things with the car. It was an actual chase, what bastards! In the end, I lost sight of them. I think I’ve never been so scared.
What are you not?
‘I am not possessive about people.
What don’t you have clear?
I don’t know if I am a good person or not. I don’t know.
What do you try to escape?
Do you get along with the mirror?
I don’t like me; I don’t get along well with the mirror.
What haven’t you got at home?
I haven’t got portraits of my son, my wife, or my parents … I have four portraits of monkeys, which I call ‘Family Portraits’. Basically, we are primates that have not evolved at all, zilch.
What can be possible?
That one day I get lost anywhere in the world, in a desert or in Antarctica, because I love extremes.
I see blood and I freak out. And I try not to get used to injustices, I try not to reach a state in which the injustices suffered by other people can be of no importance to me. So I like Mexico, because there every day your life is at risk, you live to the full and are awake.
What do you do every day?
For breakfast, I have a cup of coffee with two tablespoons of honey, and I smoke a cigarette.
What are you often asked?
Why I don’t get a dental implant to replace a missing tooth I have right in the center. I tell them that I put the cigarettes there, and so I can smoke and paint at the same time [laughter].
Interviewer: Antonio Arco