Born in 1960, Ciria is a central figure in the panorama of Spanish painting of the last three decades. After his early period involved with expressionistic figuration, in the early nineties José Manuel Ciria stabilized his defining abstract poetic program—structured in series— which was the dialogue between the uncontrolled flow of the stain and the rigor of geometry. This, in turn, constituted a critical redefinition of the two fundamental tools of abstract aesthetics of the 20th century. However, the artist’s interest in the diversity of iconographic registers as well as his tireless experimentation in the terrain of materials and supports would soon be added to that initial program. Fed by a strong conceptual model, the various combinations José Manuel generated during the nineties, lead to numerous series whose main thematic axes were time and memory.
The new period Ciria initiated in New York in late 2005 was a new point of departure in his work that signaled a process of cooling down in his painting process using the recovery of line as a compositional armature and subsequently stabilizing an ambiguous iconography at a midway point between figuration and abstraction. The artist is recovering and intensifying the two extremes of his abstract vocabulary; the stain is becoming more free, intense and dramatic, while the constructive rigor of the geometry of the ground is becoming more accentuated.
In 2013, after a brief stay in Berlin, Ciria moved to London an initiated a new series entitled The London Boxes that represents the most recent level of a specific line of investigation begun in 2005. It was with this block of work that the artist began to understand the overall composition of a painting as a set of conscious decisions and form modulated by drawing surfaced as a key theme. During this time, he created figurative works (within the broad margins permitted in contemporary figuration) alongside other totally non-referential pieces and other compositions difficult to place in either camp.
In 2015, Ciria returned to Madrid. Although he had charted out the basic outline of a new series during his last months in London, it was in Madrid, that he created a new body of work representing a new stage in his painterly discourse. In this series entitled Procedures, paintings have not been structured by means of any particular single method, but rather through the implementation of a broad combination of options available to him in terms of technique and iconography. The artist has exploited an expansive inventory that covers virtually every possibility of applying paint to a supporting surface.
Throughout his professional career Ciria has gained a wide international recognition through solo and group exhibitions among which the Herzliya Contemporary Art Museum in Tel Aviv, Israel (2002), the Tretyakov State Gallery in Moscow, Russia (2004), the Polish National Museum of Poland, Warsaw (2004), the Museo de Arte Abstracto Manuel Felguérez in Zacatecas Mexico (2005), the PasquArt Kunsthalle Art Center Museum in Bern, Switzerland (2005), the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Ateneo de Yucatán in Mérida, Mexico (2006), the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Buenos Aires, Argentina (2007), the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago de Chile (2009), the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM) (2012), the Heritage Museum (MUPAM), Malaga (2012), the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MINAC), Bucharest (2012) and the Museum of Modern Art (MAMBA), Buenos Aires, Argentina (2013). His work is in numerous institutional and private collections including the National Museum Art Center Reina Sofia (MNCARS), Spain ; the Valencian Institute of Modern Art (IVAM), Spain ; the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, Spain and The Albertina Museum, Austria.
The artist lives and works in Madrid, Spain.