In around 1922, Alberto came into contact with Uruguayan painter Rafael Barradas, who at the time advocated a type of modernity in keeping with what was known as the return to order, a return to figuration as a reaction against the way the early avant-garde had broken off in other directions. In 1923 and 1924, Alberto had a number of drawings of hieratic, linear figures from the land published in the magazines Alfar and Ronsel, and in 1925 he took part in the Exposición de la Sociedad de Artistas Ibéricos in Madrid’s Retiro Park. It was the first time his sculpture had been publically shown, and he exhibited works in the same style as Campesina (Peasant Woman), in which stripped down neo-cubist forms were used to create a figurative work. The work indicates a desire to simplify form, and a particular interest in the vertical format and ovals, which would become staples in all of Alberto’s work thereafter, from his surrealist output to the work he did in exile in the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s. The sculpture plinth has a central role, echoing of the curved forms of the female figure; this is typical of the artist, part of his interest in emphasising a verticality inspired by the Iberian sculpture of Cerro de los Santos. The female peasant motif marks the beginning of a thematic relationship with the rural environment and the land which was later to become so loaded with ideological meaning both in regenerationist thought and, later, in international socialism.
Carmen Fernández Aparicio