This exhibition, consisting of fifty-six large-scale paintings and drawings, is an approximation of Alfonso Fraile’s (Marchena, Seville, 1930 - Madrid, 1988) work. The exhibition addresses the period between 1960 and 1987; the period in which Fraile participates in the recovery of figurative painting and is recognised as one of its leading representatives. However, his career begins years earlier, after studying at the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts and the teachings of Daniel Vázquez Díaz, with works that respond to a Post-Cubist aesthetic. Thus begins the importance he attaches to the structuring of space in his first representations, which becomes one of his most characteristic features, as seen in Adolescentes y una mano (1977).
The neo-figurative adventure in which Fraile participates in the mid-sixties is the starting point for his whole subsequent career. In the Spanish context of that time the trend for Informalism still remained, lyrical and gestural, but new groups were also arising (Escuela de Zaragoza, Castilla 63, Equipo Realidad). In them the social and political attitudes exist together with modern languages and figuration. At the same time, a figurative trend with an international character takes shape and participates both in the phenomena of Pop Art as Nouvelles Réalités and has its greatest exponents in Eduardo Arroyo, Alfredo Alcaín, Equipo Crónica, Luis Gordillo and Alfonso Fraile. By 1964, Fraile joins the Nuevo Espacialismo Español group, made up by the critic Venancio Sánchez Marín, José Vento, Ángel Medina and Julio Martín-Caro. At that time his painting evolves into a more agile calligraphy and which participates in the ironic content of these drawings, "always oscillating between sarcasm and tragedy" in the words of Paloma Esteban, curator of the exhibition.
His painting -dominated by faces, portraits and figures- is based on a search for a balance between shapes and space, either through catalogues of faces as in 80 personajes, nº 7 (1976) or people on who he doubles, triples or superimposes possible formal solutions, like in Trío de seis (1985), where he often emphasises the accumulation of gestures and postures. Stylistically, Fraile does not reject the automatic technique or Informalism -nor by way of Surrealism, which he uses in Courtesana (1977) and Señorita (1980)- without renouncing representative will because of it. In this way, he reconciles the principles of analysis with automatic code, resulting in "the objectification of subjective impulse," in the words of critic Paul Azpeitia.
The last exhibition room shows his works from his later years, reflecting the artist's biography. While not abandoning his constant stylistics with neutral backgrounds, clear colours and careful execution, the protagonists of his paintings are individual beings, cartoonish and almost deformed. In works like De negro (1986), Sentada a la una, (1986) and Olimpia Jones (1987) he conveys isolation and marginalisation, by using certain expressionist notes.
Collection artworks included in the exhibition
27 September 2023 - 22 January 2024
Call It Something Else
Something Else Press, Inc. (1963-1974)
10 November 2022 - 2 October 2023
An Act of Seeing that Unfolds
The Susana and Ricardo Steinbruch Collection
23 June - 13 October 2023
Songs of Design
Languages of Republican Exile in MexicoMuestras documentales, Biblioteca y Centro de Documentación