Susana Solano and Pedro Alonso

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Susana Solano Susana Solano / ©A.Kosorukov

Susana Solano

Susana Solano (Barcelona, 1946) is one of Spain’s most internationally renowned sculptors.

Solano studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts Barcelona, where she also taught classes. She has participated in many international events such as Kassel’s Documenta VIII and IX (1987-1992), the 19th São Paulo Biennale (1987), Skulptur Projekte in Münster (1987), the Venice Biennale (1988 and 1993) and the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh (1988).

She was also awarded the Special Prize at the Utsukushi-ga-hara Open Air Museum in Tokyo (1985). Additionally, she was the recipient of the Spanish Ministry of Culture’s National Prize in Visual Arts (1988), the CEOE Prize in Arts (1996), the Royal Mint’s Tomás Francisco Prieto Prize (2011), the GAC Prize for her artistic career (2015) and Mestres, La Cadena del FAD (2018).

El mundo de las cosas - 2021
El mundo de las cosas – 2021
127 x 150,5 x 140 cm
Beechwood, stainless steel, 4 drums and sand
© Photography VEGAP

Pedro Alonso
Retrato de Pedro Alonso del libro «Excelentes», 2015 / ©Amparo Garrido

Pedro Alonso

Pedro L. Alonso (Madrid, 1959), doctor and epidemiologist, is the director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Malaria Programme in Geneva, Switzerland. This programme is responsible for coordinating the WHO’s global efforts to control and eliminate malaria, establishing guidelines, standards, policies, and directives to support countries affected by malaria worldwide.

Alonso’s career in public health spans more than thirty years. His scientific research has focused on key determinants of morbidity and mortality among the most vulnerable populations.

He has published more than 300 articles in international periodicals, primarily on the treatment of malaria and trials for vaccines and preventative therapies. He has also sat on many committees, both nationally and internationally.

Prior to his position in the WHO, Alonso was director of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), professor of Global Health at the University of Barcelona and chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Manhiça Foundation and the Manhiça Health Research Centre in Mozambique.

We stand together.

When I proposed this project to Susana Solano, she pondered it for a while and eventually answered with a conditional ‘yes’. One of the conditions was that she would travel to Mozambique, to the medical research centre founded by Pedro Alonso in Manhiça. She asked me to accompany her, so I arranged to do photo and video documentation of the experience.

Susana doesn’t like to talk about her work very much, but at some point during this adventure she mentioned to me how much she identified with what Susan Sontag writes in her essay entitled ‘Against Interpretation’. This piece of writing has allowed me to view her work, especially El mundo de las cosas (The World of Things), from a different perspective.

Our mission is not to understand as much as possible from a piece of art, let alone extract more content from a work of art than is really there. Our mission is to boil the content down to its essence so as to be able to see the object in detail […].

In the interview I conducted with David Bestué three years ago, he commented the following:

[…] In personal notes dated 1995, Susana Solano posed a question to herself: ‘What do I ask of sculpture?’ And her response: ‘That it not be instantaneously readable, that its process not be immediate. It should maintain something indecipherable in me […] my work is not intended to tell a story.’

She added: ‘[…] Some things cannot be explained. They must be seen by doing and thinking. After all, when you create you draw on elements that are very much hidden…’

I chose these quotes of Susana’s because they also speak to my experience, about the difficulty of putting words to emotions, to smells, to intuition, to things that are neither measurable nor scientifically demonstrable, though no less valuable because of it. Being an artist myself, I know how important it is to give yourself over to the inexpressible in order to let ‘the magic’ happen.

It would have been too simple to just make a sculpture and sign her name to it. Susana wanted to have an experience, to spend time with the people in Manhiça. She wanted to stand beside them, share things, share the world of things.

I propose that in order to enjoy El mundo de las cosas (The World of Things), we should look at it freely and without prejudice. We should also see the drawings made by the little girls at the Centro de Acolhimento Menino Jesus in Manhiça, while thinking about malaria. We should approach this work with the words of Manuel de Falla: ‘Music is not to be understood or comprehended, it is to be felt.’ I’d like to conclude by thanking Susana Solano for having given me the opportunity to share an experience with her that was as intense as it was enlightening.

We stand together.

Amparo Garrido
Visual artist and curator of CNIO Arte

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Opening ceremony video


Gobierno de España
CNIO Stop Cancer
Excelencia Severo Ochoa
Banco Santander

Entrance Hall, Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO)
Exhibition opening: February 20th, 12h.
Hours: Mon-Fri from 9am to 7pm*
* Visitors to the exhibition must show their IDs.