The Object of Painting

Spanish Masters from the last decades

Palácio das Artes, Porto

November 23rd, 2018 to March 3rd, 2019

Artists: Equipo 57, Ángela de la Cruz, Luis Feito, Luis Gordillo, José Guerrero, Guillermo Mora, Pablo Palazuelo, Perejaume, Antonio Saura, Santiago Serrano, Antoni Tàpies, Juan Uslé, José María Yturralde.

Returning from the blue

On the painting as object in the Mariano Yera Collection

(Text by Guillermo Mora, curator of the show)

At the beginning of March 2018, Natalia Yera sent a courier to my studio in Madrid with the catalogue of the collection of Spanish painting her father had started back in 1999. A work of mine had just entered the collection.

I am in the habit on leafing through books from back to front, so the first image I came across was Eclipse Azul, a painting by José María Yturralde from 2003 which consists of a black square on top of a large indigo blue mass. As I kept flicking through the catalogue I discovered paintings by José Guerrero, a wonderful work by Ángela de la Cruz, an ever-young Palazuelo from the late nineties, Perejaume, Luis Gordillo, Antonio Saura... artists I had all read about and studied and had even written assignments about. And now, here I was alongside them in the Mariano Yera Collection. I felt pleased with myself.

Two months later, Rosina Gómez-Baeza and Lucía Ybarra, curators of the Mariano Yera Collection, called me with an offer to jointly curate an exhibition of the collection in the city of Porto. My input, as the last artist to enter the collection, would be to bring my personal vision; a vision from the present towards the past, from the front backwards. Turning my head not only to look back at the past, but also to see what happened in Spanish painting from the second half of the twentieth century onwards.

Interestingly enough, this ‘looking back’ that Rosina insisted on so much when we talked on the phone was an exact replica of what I had done when looking at the catalogue: starting from the back. To return from page 222 in the book about the collection, where Yturralde’s Eclipse Azul [Blue Eclipse] is reproduced; returning from the blue that partially conceals a large black square from our sight.

That black square eclipsing the blue has a lot to say about my own painting, and also about a less-trodden approach to Spanish painting. It speaks about paint used to cover paint, of the painting as object (and not as window), of the painterly screen that constantly blocks and returns our gaze. It also speaks about a type of colour-driven painting in Spain that has charted its own path, silently witnessing how its narrative painting sister has been more vocally defended as authentically Spanish.

I have no idea whether Eclipse Azul is pure chance or a premonition, but it triggered off the return of a whole series of paintings, artists and ideas to one of painting’s unresolved issues and to reconsider the role of the painting as object (or the object of painting) in Spain.

That is my wish. That is my gaze.


© Copyright: Alberto Ros