The aesthetic approaches of the Equipo Crónica (Chronicle Team) (1964-1981) evoke the visual atmosphere of an era. The group materialises as one of the most coherent ideas from the figurative movement, which, at the beginning of the Sixties, attempts to leave informalist Spanish painting behind.
The Equipo Crónica is formed initially by Rafael Solbes (Valencia, 1940-1981), Manuel Valdés (Valencia, 1942) and Juan Antonio Toledo (Valencia, 1940-1995), though in 1965, shortly after their first exhibition, Toledo breaks away from the collective, despite still sharing many of their postulates. The work of Solbes and Valdés subscribes to the global debate on figuration - from Pop Art to critical Realism - that occurs at the end of the Fifties.
Equipo Crónica explore a new direction in their initial work, contemporarily defined as “the affirmation of an objectifying, and even satirical, route to putting forward ethical content”. To this end, they use media images and a radically innovative artistic language - the series is the key resource as the artist's point of view moves into the background and irony emerges in the images.
This exhibition in the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is structured according to a text published by the Equipo Crónica, with one exception being the collection “The public and the Private”, named by the curator Tomás Llorens. Sixty-three works are displayed in sixteen series - sculpture, drawings and graphic work are almost completely excluded given that the Museum of Fine Arts in Bilbao presents an extensive exhibition of this work in 1988.
The first series corresponds to the Initial Period (1964-1966), in which flat ink and reduced tones on the wood are used as a support and signify the start of the use of iconography from the media. This is followed by The recovery (1967-1969), which focuses on images of the cultural elite from Golden Age art in Spain. The series Guernica 69 (1969) refers to the emblematic work of Pablo Picasso, and in Autopsy of a Craft (1969-1970) images are borrowed from Surrealism. The craft of the painter is the subject matter, with flat ink and classic painting the backdrop.
Large-scale formats appear in Police and Culture (1971), with scenes that constantly feature the police with emblematic images from contemporary art. The Black Series (1972) is displayed next and is loaded with violence and action and brimming with daily objects that were typical in the post-war period. It is also dominated by blacks and greys, as is Portraits, Still-lifes and Landscapes (1973) that once again takes the theme of the Golden Age and past avant-garde movements. The Poster (1973) uses large formats to outline the crisis of separation between prison and painting, pamphlets and art.
In Trades and Officials (1973-1974) the reflection on artistic activity through the repetition of images and compositions that appear “non-realist” is continued. Critical realism arrives in the form of The Subversion of Signs (1974), where past painters appear in each painting. The Wall (1975-1976) is a series that comes into being from the execution of 27 September 1975 and it is followed by The Plot (1976-1977), which uses signs from a well-known work that are painted by another illustrious painter.
Billiards is taken as a metaphor with which to question the limits of painting in The Game of Billiards (1976-1977), where acrylic paint, flat ink, different shades and brilliant colours determine the style. A return to oil is seen in Urban Landscapes (1978-1979), a series with a sociological focus linked to the city and its inhabitants. Large formats in oil and signs and references to past avant-garde movements make up the series The Journeys (1980).
To close the exhibition there is The Public and the Private (1981), where the self-portrait by the artist Rembrandt van Rijn and the interpretation of the work The Raft of the Medusai (1818) by Théodore Géricault take on connotations of political vindication.
IVAM Centre Julio González, Valencia (February - April, 1989); Centre de Cultura Contemporània de la Casa de la Caritat, Barcelona (May - July, 1989)