Manel Àlvarez was born in Sant Feliu de Codines (Barcelona, Spain) in 1945. He studied art in the San Juan Bosco School in Barcelona and began sculpting religious figures in wood. He continued to make sculpture after finishing the program and also worked as an industrial and interior designer. His success in these ventures afforded him the time and money to dedicate himself entirely to sculpture.
On a scholarship from the Pagani Foundation in Milan, he went to Carrara, Italy where he began working in marble for the first time. Working with marble and the daily contact with sculptors of differing levels of experience, combined to gradually transform his work; there was a simplification from the neoclassical to a more personal style, synthesising human and organic forms.
Manel spent 14 years working in Italy and exhibiting in different countries throughout Europe including France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy and Spain as well as Iran, Mexico, Brazil and the United States. He travels the world both for inspiration and to install various site-specific sculptures. While in Atlanta in 1996, working on pieces for the Olympic Games, Alvarez visited a magnificent collection of African art as well as an exhibit at the MOMA in New York. He was overcome emotionally by the pieces and began working on what would be his future “Africa” series. He says: “I did not want to copy African art, nor invent an art about Africa. I just wanted to transmit what that African art meant to me.”