Le jour où j'ai rencontré mon premier amour (The Day I Met My First Love)

Eduardo Arroyo

Madrid, Spain, 1937 - 2018
  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 
    162 x 130 cm
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  • Donation of the Real Asociación de Amigos del Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2012

In this painting, Eduardo Arroyo portrays young miner Jean Pierre Antinori, who died, along with sixteen of his fellow miners, in a mine explosion in the French town of Fouquières-lès-Lens on 6 February 1970. News of the catastrophe in this small mining town in northern France spread, but no light was shed on the events. This sparked a citizen protest movement, with the participation of a group of sixteen artists, who travelled to the location to obtain information about the miners and their families in person. As a group, these artists later published an album of screen prints and produced sixteen paintings. These were shown at the 22nd edition of the Salon de la Jeune Peinture (Salon of Young Painting), held in Paris in 1971. The members of this group, known as the Réalité quotidienne de travailleurs de la mine (Everyday Reality of the Mine Workers) based their paintings on a photo album of the widow of the young miner Antinori, from which Arroyo got the negative for his portrait of the miner and his wife. The title of the painting comes from a note that appears on the original photo, which Arroyo removes, along with the background that appears in the photograph, transformed into black in the painting. The chiaroscuro highlights the light focused on the couple’s intertwined hands. The narrative which Arroyo creates with this portrait makes the painting a critique of working conditions, evidence and a record of this group of workers, the miners, a subject to which Arroyo returns in the paintings and drawings titled: Sama de Langreo (Asturias), septiembre 1963 (Sama de Langreo [Asturias], September 1963) and La mujer del minero Pérez Martínez, Constantina, llamada Tina, rapada por la policía (The Wife of Miner Pérez Martínez, Constantina, Known as Tina, Shaved by the Police, 1970).