Friday, May 30, 2014

Eduardo Arroyo

El caballero espanol (Spanish Gentleman)
oil on canvas
162 x 130.5 cm
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
-Fair use-

Eduardo Arroyo (1937-), Spanish painter, graphic artist, author and set designer born in Madrid, is today regarded as one of the most important exponents of politically committed realism.

At age 21, he left Spain to Paris where he worked as an author and journalist, because of his basic contempt for the regime of Francisco Franco (when Salvador Dali came to terms with Franco in his old age, Arroyo later described him as a "whore") and even lost his Spanish citizenship in 1974 (which he got back two years later).

Not very convinced of his own writing skills and his political judgement, he decided to devote his time to painting. He began to "tell stories in pictures" and thus occupied a special position in the Paris of the 1950s, where at that time, abstract and not representational narrative painting prevailed. He composed stereotypical figures, which represent characters from certain social classes. He often included defamiliarized quotations from famous pictures with a touch of irony. And his works came to be increasingly considered scandalous and were censored. He dared to caricature established artists such as Miro or Duchamp and this provoked further enmity and heavy criticism.

Then he returned to Spain, after Franco's death in 1976. His home country officially honored him with a major retrospective, and in 1983 he received the Great National Prize for Painting in Spain. From 1969 he occasionaly also worked as stage designer for important European productions.