Four From Madrid: Contemporary Spanish Realism

October 1 – December 18, 1994

Valls-IncubusSpanish painters have always shown a marked ability to bring realism and vitality to traditional religious themes. In no other place have spiritual ideas been given such earthy forms as in Spain. Beginning as early as the 12th century, painters created lifelike representations of human faces. Often, the features of their religious images came from the actual life around them.

The realism from contemporary Spain shown in this exhibition demonstrated both the continued the high level of mastership and the traditional themes of old Spain. It was sincere in its lack of 20th century superficiality and gimmicks. Like their well-known predecessors, the represented artists have a strong foundation in drawing, especially in drawing the figure. Two of them, Valls and Torrens, actually began their educational training not in art but in medicine — thus thoroughly understanding the physical potential, the structure, and the limitations of the human body. Valls does not use models for his alchemical creations, while Torrens utilizes the modern technique of super-realism, the airbrush. Like El Greco, Isoe brings sensitivity of another culture and its innate aesthetic; the result is powerful analytically conceived images. Roa transforms the everyday around him into the magical, earthy tradition of Zurbaran and Velazquez.

The artwork of these men pulsates with life in its full spectrum — it is rich in color and texture, palpable to the senses, and highly energizing. As we studied the paintings and drawings in this exhibition, Four from Madrid: Contemporary Spanish Realism, we saw superior draughtsmanship and the passionate involvement of the Spanish soul — perhaps witnessing the beginning of Spain’s next Golden Age.

Selected Highlights: