Affable, enthusiastic guy, Manuel talks about his painting not with arrogance but with the curiosity of those who try to understand their surroundings and also understand themselves. He recognizes that art is not a simple path, so he always recommends that his students move away from painting if they have chosen this discipline as a method of relaxing. "The painting is not that, but a process of constant search in which perfection never comes and that is why it is suffered," he explains. That is why he understands that the artist needs self-esteem to overcome the problems and insecurities that creation has. Castillero believes that the painter requires a balanced mixture of ego that gives him strength to follow the path when doubts arrive, complemented by the humility necessary to learn from mistakes and to understand that learning never ends.
As for its beginnings, the painter has explained on several occasions that he had been interested in painting since childhood. Medium student, not enthusiastic, found the light when their parents enrolled them in the School of Arts and Crafts, studies that later complemented with landscape teachers such as Antonio Zarco or Antonio Povedano. The definitive push came from the hand of Antonio López's painting, whose discovery was a before and after in Castillero's painting. It was the 90s when a remembered retrospective of the artist from La Mancha was made in Madrid that Castillero opened his eyes. "I did not even know how to start and see his paintings broadened my perspective," recalls a Cordovan artist who later opened his influences to many other Spanish and international painters.
All these influences were then converging to give rise to such unique series as forgotten landscapes, in which he speculates with current and brand new urban scenarios under the imagined twilight of the passage of time. There is melancholy in them for the time gone, as almost always there is in science fiction, and that Machadian breath of observing reality with wide eyes and deep humanity. Castillero, although every morning he gets up at seven in the morning to go jogging and is a man completely away from any bohemia, he reveals himself as a romantic artist in the depths of the concept. Romantic and dystopian that under the light of Ciudad Jardín, where he has his studio, he builds a work full of echoes and ‘saudade’ every day.
Castillero's painting, despite its constant awards and exhibitions outside of Córdoba, has begun to be recognized in his hometown in a relatively recent way, so the selection that is exhibited in the exhibition 'Islands at noon' is a good way of entering the author's personal world. The bulk of the proposal is part of his “Reclamed Places” series, which presents us as an imaginary world has already been said. Castillero considered this series of works as a review of the nineteenth-century painting of the old romantics. Very well-known scenarios appear in it but already abandoned and without the human figure in its surroundings. There is an ironic look there about the vanity of the contemporary world and about the ephemeral economic and political power.
Also included in the exhibition is the new and unpublished work “When Terror lives in the fortress”, prepared in 2019 and inaugurating a new stage of Manuel Castillero. It is an already different approach, less evident in its background, and in which the creator's obsessions, his dreams and childhood nightmares appear, the referents of an era marked by the consumption of popular culture in cinema, comics or television. The use of generational icons and symbolism now take center stage in a newly begun series, which time will tell where it leads because for now the known is only the tip of the iceberg.
There is no doubt with all these elements that Castillero stands as a very suggestive painter, to discover for many. And it is that in him the plastic culture and numerous elements of the popular culture coexist, the romantic spirit of the 19th century with that apogee for science fiction that was all the rage in the 70s and 80s of the 20th century and that today is already a constant in the contemporary culture In his painting there is not a world but many worlds that converge and rise before the viewer thanks to the passion of an artist who melts as few personal dreams with collective dreams. Castillero wakes up, brushstroke by brushstroke, iconography and also the fears and insecurities that inhabit the imaginary of several generations.