ASTANA – The capital’s Kulanshi Contemporary Art Centre is currently hosting 82 works by one of the most famous Spanish artists of the 20th and 21st centuries as part of the MAXAM collection.
This exhibition, which opened on Oct. 1, is the first time the collection has been shown outside of Spain. It will run until Nov. 15.The collection arose as part of efforts by the Spanish Dynamite Manufacturing Company (later renamed MAXAM) to market itself. Established in Bilbao, Spain, in 1872 by Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, the company produced a variety of explosive materials and devices. The company wanted to create an advertising calendar and asked Spanish artist Arturo Melida Y Alinari to illustrate it. He created a scene depicting Diana the huntress, which was printed on the 1900 company calendar. Over time, the calendars became collectors’ objects.
“The collection is very famous in Spain. Many of the paintings represent a dialogue between the old and new pictures. Usually, the authors of the paintings are the most popular artists in Spain, popular among the public and recognised by critics,” said Lucas Ferreira, communications director of MAXAM, about the collection.
Many early pictures show genteel women with rifles or burly men using dynamite for mining. The paintings reflect both the primary activity of the company and the evolution of art in Spain. The country’s political changes can also be tracked, as bourgeois and status-conscious images give way in the 1940s to darker, rural, conservative paintings after the rise of nationalist dictator Francisco Franco. The works are highly figurative.
The first exhibition of the MAXAM collection was organised in 1999 in Madrid. Since then, the pictures have travelled around many cities in Spain. The embassies of Kazakhstan and Spain were instrumental in bringing the collection to Kazakhstan for its first international exhibition.
The MAXAM Foundation, a non-profit organisation created by the company, manages the collection and other historical assets of the company and supports social development.