The personal and artistic career of Eduardo Arroyo (Madrid, 1937) is very representative of his generation. Born during the Civil War, he is educated in a post-war Madrid, and lives in exile in France during the Franco dictatorship until he decides to return to Spain in 1976 because of the amnesty offered by the establishment of democratic freedoms. Arroyo represents the continuity of an identity created by avant-garde artists from the Thirties, which is also decisively contributed to by key Spanish artists such as Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. For Arroyo, it is an identity marked by the behaviour patterns of what is "Spanish", which influences his creative career.
This exhibition explores Arroyo’s career spanning over forty years and begins with his early pieces from 1958 in the French capital. Over one hundred and sixty works, including oils, drawings, watercolours, sculptures and scenic materials show his huge production.
There are two different stages in the artist’s career: during exile (1958-1976) and after his exile (1976-1998), significantly separated by the return of his Spanish passport. His paintings from the Sixties are influenced by principles of the New Figuration (or Narrative Figuration), that because of its more political aspects finds itself close to the concept of Pop Art. However his work is dominated by a Spanish theme, interpreted from an ironic and critical stance in response to the political situation, as can be seen in Sama de Langreo (Asturias), sep 1963. El minero Silvino Zapico es arrestado por la policía (1967) or in Caballero español (1970). He also uses references to the history of painting, like in the piece Vivir y dejar morir o el fin trágico de Marcel Duchamp (1965), a series made in collaboration with artists Giulles Aillaud and Antonio Recalcati, or España te Miró. La Masia (1967). In the Sixties he also begins work as a set designer, working with Klaus Grüber. The first stage ends with the monumental Ronda de noche (1975), pastiche and reconstruction of a Rembrandt van Rijn painting, with which he wants to analyse and denounce the relationship between art and power.
Arroyo finds in the figure of Ulysses the ideal metaphor and theme with which to narrate his own experience, as in Dichoso quien como Ulises… (1977), and adopts the chimney-sweep to metaphorically equip him with the trade of painter, like in Madrid Paris-Madrid (1984), after previously assuming the role of boxer and matador. In the Eighties he extends the concept and context of what is Spanish while increasing the ironic load of his pictorial narratives, which focuses on Spanish figures like Carmen Amaya in Carmen Amaya fríe sardinas en el Waldorf Astoria (1988). He also begins to address national and international politics more frequently, always as critical humour, whether in his oil paintings, sculptures, drawings, collages or photographs, as seen in Gorbachov (1986), Dama de Elche (1986) y Dama de Baza, (1994).
Palacio Episcopal, Málaga (April 30 - June 14, 1998); Museo de Arte de Lima (January 13 - March 7, 1999); Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Artes, Mexico City
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