In 1975, Carlos Mensa created a series of small-format works using a complex mixed technique, incorporating his use of collage/assembly into the pictorial material and taking advantage of an extraordinary wealth of glazes and transparencies. With the La Stravaganza series, he brought the symbolisation of his painting to the highest level of sophistication.
In April 1975 at the Sala Pelaires in Palma de Mallorca, Carlos Mensa presented a special exhibition: the first 50 small-format works of a series that he would continue to create over a period of three years, the largest of which was 27 x 25 cm, executed in a mixed material approach with an extraordinary wealth of glaze and transparencies.
The materials employed relate these works to the collage of Une semaine de bonté (1933) by Max Ernst, due not only to the approach taken, but also to that particular 19th-century atmosphere in which curtains, erotic lewdness and mechanical ingenuity abound. With the La Stravaganza series, Mensa would raise the symbolic charge of his earlier and newer painting to its highest level of sophistication.
"Mechanical, orthopaedic, charged with gas like balloons, with broken-egg heads in and Calderón de la Barca recited in the empty space (…) Mensa’s paintings were a little larger than a multiplication table and were lined up like sacrilegious icons (…) Each admirer of his painting could enter the places prepared by him: alcoves, railway stations, clinics for blind dolls, hermitages where children of the Spanish Civil War were isolated and gagged and sacristies used for storing lightning rods".
(…) "Mensa could be Maupassant and Fantomas at the same time, a precise and realist narrator (…) A master of mystification, but also an instrument of precision (…) A riddle-maker (…) Unlike the surrealist painters of the Parisian School, his pictorial qualities transcended achievements, mechanisms, caprices and conjurer’s tricks".
(...) "A painter capable of entering the dreams of his contemporaries just like going to the cinema and watching a historical film: the tragedy of Mayerling (…) His impressions are the survivors of public and private daily shipwrecks, from the first chapter of history to the one that started tomorrow".
(…) "The assumptions in a painting such as his are infinite and would lead us into attics where magical instruments are kept to confuse us even more".
(…) "His atrocities, his parodies, his sarcasms and his rebellions can be cruel, sacrilegious, comical and symbolic (…) The first step in the creation of a painting is choosing the subject. I choose five or six subjects from a volume of five hundred pages. My choice is due in part to that margin of chance that always exists in the creation of a work, but it is also tied to the symbols and figuration which from a true type of language is made (…) The only source has been French Illustration from 1890 until the beginning of the century".
(…) "Every time I succeed in getting my friend Carlos to talk about his paintings, I have the scruple of having pushed him into an impure act. An abuse, a violation! Pushed is perhaps too aggressive of a term for an external immobility such as his (…) I know no silence more prolific that his’".
LA STRAVAGANZA, 127 Capricci di Carlos Mensa
Raffaele Carrieri / Edizioni Trentadue Milà 1976