Manolo Paz was born in Castrelo (Cambados) in 1957. He studied at the Mestre Mateo Arts and Crafts School in Santiago de Compostela between 1978 and 1979 and, a year later, he taught at the Stonemasonry School in Poio (Pontevedra).
In 1983, he created his Satélites series, in which he used materials such as concrete and formwork processes to shape industrial-inspired fragmentary structures. During a short stay in New York that same year, he got to know the new trends thanks to his visits to MOMA and other avant-garde art centres.
After returning from New York, he went from “satellite to monolith”, in his own words, giving greater importance to land than to spatial concepts. From that moment on, his work focused on reflections on the value of the autochthonous culture, its symbols, its signs, its material (stone, granite) and its dialogue with memory of the place where the work of art would be located.
In 1984, his participation in the exhibitions Encontros no Espazo and Imaxes dos Oitenta caught the attention of Fernando Vijande, a gallery owner from Madrid. Paz started to exhibit his work in Vijande’s galleries, becoming part of the national art circuits and participating in fairs and group exhibitions abroad.
In 1986, he combined stone and wood. He used wood for the base of pieces with an ascending aesthetics related to the verticality of the body, of the anthropomorphic trunk, which had phallic connotations, obvious in pieces such as Sipotes (1986).
In 1989, more rational factors came into play in his works, including balance, tension and volume, horizontal stability and the achievement of a relaxed space around massive lithic pieces to the detriment of the limits of admiration imposed by the previous vertical stones.
In 1992, he was awarded the Unión Fenosa Grant for Overseas Artistic Creation and returned to New York. He then left the artificiality of the base and opted for a more natural presentation of his pieces. He developed an alternative to direct carving and granite, by creating assembled sculptures with geometric and constructivist bases and Neo-pop touches. He also experimented with metal and started to work with the organic assembly of granite fragmentary structures.
In 1994, he completed one of his most representative works: Familia de Menhires or Menhires por la Paz, a group of 12 sculptures facing the Tower of Hercules in A Coruña.
Between the mid-1990s and the beginning of the 21st century, Manolo Paz exhibited his work regularly at the Trinta gallery. Some of his most important solo exhibitions during this period were those at the old Maritime Station in A Coruña (1999), the Barjola Museum in Gijón (2000), the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Mallorca, the Trama gallery in Madrid and at the SCQ gallery in Santiago de Compostela. In the latter exhibition, he left the gap so as to focus on the presence of mass in vacuum.
In 2002, he created Adónde llega el mar, which is now at the entrance hall of the Museum of Pontevedra, where visitors are welcomed under a mussel raft culture structure, which is so typical in the Galician landscape but partially hidden too.
In 2003 he created Catedrales, an ecclesiastic work for peaceful retreat, like other two works from the previous year — Agua bendita and Capillas.
In 2010, he made the cross for the altar where Benedict XVI celebrated the liturgies during his visit to Santiago de Compostela.
In 2011, his work Menhir, a piece measuring ten metres high and weighing over 120 tones, was installed in the accesses to the new airport facilities in Santiago de Compostela. In that same year, he was named full member of the Nosa Señora do Rosario Galician Royal Academy of Fine Arts, in the sculpture section, and in the ceremony he delivered a speech titled “A Pedra e o Home: Reflexos” (“Stone and Men: Reflections”). He was also awarded the Ramón Cabanillas Prize by the Cambados local government and the Galician Culture Prize for Plastic Arts.
In 2012, he presented A pedra e o home: Reflexos at the Torrente Ballester Foundation in Santiago de Compostela, in collaboration with the Galician Royal Academy of Fine Arts. In this exhibition he displayed the drawings which illustrated his speech at the admission ceremony of the Academy in 2011.
In 2013, he had a solo exhibition in the Museum of Pontevedra, Luna azul, curated by David Barro, in which he used for the first time blue Bahia granite (from Brazil). In that same year, he was also included in a group exhibition at the Galician City of Culture, Galicia Pétrea, curated by Miguel Fernández-Cid.
In 2014, he returned to America. He presented Manolo Paz. La distancia que une at the Spanish Cultural Centre in Panama (Casa del Soldado). This exhibition, his first one in America in many years, consisted of a selection of wooden and stone pieces made between 1995 and 2013, and it was an important retrospective of the artist’s work. He also took part in a group exhibition at the Galician City of Culture, Auga Doce.
In 2016, he participated in Narrativas monumentales, organised by the artist Álvaro Negro at the MAC in A Coruña, and Ao carón do mar, an exhibition of public sculptures with other Galician sculptors from different generations in which he presented his work Nasa de estrelas, made of steel wire mesh.