Manuel Espinosa is known for his participation in the Asociación de Arte Concreto-Invención, established in Buenos Aires in 1943. He was one of the forefathers of geometric art in Argentina. As part of the Asociación de Arte Concreto-Invención, he produced work in line with their push to move away from traditional painting, to a radical exclusively non-figurative alternative.
In the 1950s Espinosa travelled to Europe and made contact with some of the leading constructive artists of the time including Max Bill, Georges Vantongerloo and Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildeward. Influenced by these artists, Espinosa embraced the idea that creating variations upon a theme could offer a systematic and precise understanding of a particular form. Following this, Espinosa focused on constructing paintings primarily from geometric elements, characterised by a rigorous system of order. The arranged squares and circles in serial patterns investigate the subtle effects of space and colour, exploring optical sensations of depth and movement. Espinosa employed transparencies and juxtapositions that generate an optical play of mesmerising effect.
In 2018 Stephen Friedman Gallery presented ‘Black and White: Works on Paper from the 1970s' to coincide with the launch of a new publication on Manuel Espinosa's works on paper (produced by La Colección Espinosa).
Recent solo exhibitions include: ‘Manuel Espinosa', Stephen Friedman Gallery, London (2018); ‘Manuel Espinosa - Light, colour and movement', Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Salta, Argentina; toured to Museo Emilio Caraffa, Córdoba, Argentina (2015); ‘Manuel Espinosa', Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England (2014); ‘Manuel Espinosa: Geometría en Movimiento', Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2013); ‘Manuel Espinosa: Paintings and Works on Paper, 1960s and 1970s', Sicardi Gallery, Houston, Texas, USA (2013); ‘Manuel Espinosa: Drawings and Paintings, 1950s - 1970s', Sicardi Gallery, Houston, Texas, USA (2010); ‘Espinosa', Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Neuquén, Argentina (2009); ‘Manuel Espinosa. Anthology on Paper', Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2003) and ‘Manuel Espinosa. Rosario Prize 2001', Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes, Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina (2001).
Notable group exhibitions include: The Illusive Eye, El Museo del Barrio, New York, USA (2016); ‘Seeing Around Corners', Turner Contemporary, Margate, England (2016); ‘Real/Virtual, Arte Cinético argentino de los años sesenta', Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2012); ‘50 Years of the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención', Instituto Cultural Iberoamericano, Buenos Aires, Argentina (1995); ‘Abstraction in the XX Century', Museo de Arte Moderno Buenos Aires, Argentina (1985); ‘Vanguards of the 1940s', Arte Concreto-Invención, Arte Madí, Perceptismo, Museo Eduardo Sívori, Buenos Aires, Argentina (1980); ‘Two Trends: Geometry-Surrealism', Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina (1975); ‘Manuel O. Espinosa--Tomás Maldonado', Sociedad Argentina de Artistas Plásticos, Buenos Aires, Argentina (1947); and ‘First Exhibition of the Asociación Arte Concreto-Invención', Salon Peuser, Argentina (1946).
Espinosa's works are included in prominent collections internationally, including the Fondo Nacional de los Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, USA; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Sofía Imber, Caracas, Venezuela; Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, USA; Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, New York, USA.