“The three ladies”

 

 

 

Luis Seoane
Argentina-España, 1910–1979


The three ladies, 1974

Oil con canvas
88 x 115 cm

Ralli Collection

 

Women as a constant

Luis Seoane resorts to female representation as a constant in his work, be it to refer to the social situation in post-war Galicia, through their robust bodies and sharp features; as an allegory of the mother-earth, the "Mater Galleciae"; or in works where the artist’s focus is on experimentation and plastic and formal development.

With his portrayal of these figures, Seoane communicates a message from a society (repressed, impoverished, postwar), a culture (Galician) and a language (his own contemporary artistic language).

The three ladies

In this piece of work the artist represents static figures who appear to be waiting, standing next to the sea. Three robust women, with large hands and broad shoulders, are engrossed in conversation on the seashore. Two of them are depicted in profile while the third seems to be staring at the observer. The way they are represented is seen very frequently in Seoane's work: they are a symbol of all those people who waited, and some of whom are still waiting, to see the return of their relatives who had to emigrate or went to war.

Simplification as a language

We can see the simplification of forms in his language, combined with the use of a reduced colour palette and pure colours. He composes figures and spaces based on flat coloured marks and makes use of black in the form of lines to delimit certain volumes. The flat figures stand out against an intense blue and ochre background that is also flat. Three stripes in just two colours divide the space into land, sea and sky. The scene dispenses with any anecdote or decorative element; it goes straight to the essence of form, colour and message.

This is a piece of work from his late stage in which lyricism and compositional harmony dominate the scene, leaving aside his more abstract and expressionist side.

“Figure in violet”

Figura en violeta de luis Seoane

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luis Seoane
(1910, Argentina – 1979, Spain)


Figure in violet, 1970

Serigraphy
Ed. 9/50
55 x 37 cm

Ralli Collection

 

From simplification to abstraction

In his artistic career and his path to schematism, Luis Seoane comes close to abstraction. In a process of simplification and purification of elements such as shape, colour and drawing, he resorts to geometry and creates compositions based on flat colours; marks of colour that work autonomously and independently from the lines, which continue to appear as black strokes.

This independent use of colour and line in a certain way derives from his previous work in engraving, and he uses them similarly both in his graphic and his plastic work.

In "Figura en violeta" we see the use of this refined language thanks to the screen printing technique. This technique allows the artist to work with a cleaner finish of colours, which are completely flat.

Beyond the form

In this image we also see a double game, a double image, like a nod to the duality of its language. On the one hand, the shape formed by patches of colour presents a figure seen from the front, with what appears to be a hat or fruit bowl on the head. In addition, inside the face of this figure we can appreciate the profiles of two figures, one male and one female, who are about to kiss. The frontal figure is represented from the bust upwards, based on geometric shapes and patches of violet and white, combined with some black lines and on a pinkish background. We can only see the shape of the profiles of these latter two faces, created from a thin black line, without using patches or any other colour. The figurative aspect of the artist, which is always present, is clearly captured here without ever losing sight of the motive, even in his most abstract works.

“Caronte”

Caronte - Deira

Ernesto Deira
Argentina, 1928-1986

Caronte, 1985
Acrylic on fabric
160 x 200 cm

Ralli Collection

Ernesto Deira

Argentine artist of the New Figuration movement (or Neo-figurative art). Together with Luis Felipe Noé, Rómulo Macció and Jorge de la Vega, he was part of the Otra Figuración group (“Other Figuration”), which was the name given to their first collective exhibition in 1961.

This homogenous and diverse group lasted in this form until 1965, with the artists continuing to follow the principles of Neo-figurative art individually in their work.

Formally speaking, what unites the group is the representation of the human figure from an existentialist point of view. As Noé himself states, their way of working did not suggest a return to figuration, but rather an alternative. The human figure is included within an artistic setting where informal art prevailed, be it Expressionist or abstract. They take their language from Informalism but become removed from this movement by including references to the human figure.

Expressive informalism and protagonism of color

Ernesto Deira takes aspects from Informalism and Expressionism that allow him to play with the matter, forms and colour, to distort the figure, representing Man in his most destructive aspect.

Despite the chaotic appearance of his works, Deira took extreme care in their composition and colours, using them both to transmit a sense of restlessness and anguish.

"Caronte", a ticket to the other riverbank

In the work before us, entitled “Caronte” which can be translated to “Charon”, the colour red merges between the background and the figure, which we can just about distinguish thanks to a fine line drawn by the artist and detailed chromatic changes in the figures. Other geometric forms intermingle on the canvas next to this large patch of red, forming in turn part of the human figures represented. In this work we can distinguish human forms, or parts of them, which move and are arranged on the canvas as if they were in a state of limbo (without gravity, without coherence, without narrative; they are merely suspended beings immersed in a red space).

As we mentioned earlier, the use of colour and forms always directs us towards a composition in which the human figure is present. Beyond the figurative and material references, we can discern the subject from the title. In Greek mythology, Charon, which literally means “fierce brightness”, was the ferryman of Hades, responsible for transporting the souls of the dead to the other side of the River Acheron in exchange for a Greek coin called an obolus. If they could not pay the fee they were condemned to wander the shores for one hundred years until Charon would agree to take them at no charge (this myth is the origin of the Greek tradition of burying bodies with a coin under their tongue).

 

Series “Carné Amont”

Carne Amont 1.6
Roberto Matta
Chile, 1911-2002

Carné Amont 1/6, 1979
Etching and aquatint
Ed. 60/100 66 x 50 cm

Ralli Collection

Roberto Matta

Roberto Matta, of Chilean origin, is one of the most influential international artists in the culture of the 20th and 21st Century. He joined the Surrealists in Paris in 1938. His input to the group was paramount, and he contributed decisively to the renewal of the current. His works stem from surrealism and psychic automatic drawing to let his imagination fly free with a great metaphysical painting component.

His style

Known mainly for his pictorial works and contributions to movements like Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism, Matta worked with different artistic techniques and became involved in an endless list of proposals and movements, both in Europe and America.

"Carné Amont"

The series of engravings "Carné Amont" consists of six works numbered from 1 to 6 in which, without a narrative structure or order, Matta represented totemic figures in allusion to pre-Columbian elements and the mythology of the indigenous peoples of America. At the same time, he included themes from the Etruscan, Greek-Latin and Egyptian mythology—countries and cultures he became acquainted with—to end up developing his very own Imaginarium that addresses the issues of origins. With figurative elements and a high degree of surrealism and anthropomorphism, his social work presented this random combination of symbols and narrative that intends to illustrate the problem in a more direct and accessible manner. 

 

Complete series "Carné Amont":

  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Carné Amont 1/6", 1979
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Carné Amont 2/6", 1979
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Carné Amont 3/6", 1979
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Carné Amont 4/6", 1979
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Carné Amont 5/6", 1979
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Carné Amont 6/6", 1979

Series “Hom´mere III – L´Ergonaute”

 

 

Roberto Matta
Chile-Italy, 1911-2002

Il Explose, 1977
Serie “Hom´mère III - L´Ergonaute”
Etching and aquatint
66 x 50 cm

Ralli Collection

 

Roberto Matta created four series of engravings, which he called Hom'mère. Each folder or artist's book presents a second name, the first of them being Hom’mère - Chaosmos (1973), followed by Hom’mère - L’autre (1975), Hom’mère - L’ergonaute (1977) and Hom’mère - Point d’appui (1983).

Taking the story of Jason and the Arognauts, one of the greatest epic poems of the Greek mythology that tells the story of the return trip of the hero, as an excuse, Matta created Hom’mère - L’ergonaute. He alludes to this classical narrative to illustrate an unedited biographical poem, in which he also reflects the social problems of the time.
The visual space between the works is paramount. We are presented with a chronological and historical order. We see linear vibrations, anthropomorphic characters set out in a space where texture and colour take precedence over anything else, full of transparencies that take us to one and another place at the same time in both a formal and plastic manner.
The Hom’mère series reflect his most developed artistic theories on the exploration and representation of the fourth dimension, the theory of relativity, movement and spatiality. He also addresses the theme of the identity of the human being and the origin of everything. It is not by chance that the title of the series is the combination of “homme” and “mère”: “Man” and "mother" in French.

 

Complete series “Hom´mere III - L´Ergonaute”:

  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "L´Ergofrage", 1977
    Serie “Hom´mere III - L´Ergonaute”
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Les Pretendants", 1977
    Serie “Hom´mere III - L´Ergonaute”
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Paterminant de L’Enfance", 1977
    Serie “Hom´mere III - L´Ergonaute”
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Tranchetre", 1977
    Serie “Hom´mere III - L´Ergonaute”
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Le Palais d´Hiver", 1977
    Serie “Hom´mere III - L´Ergonaute”
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Le Conmer", 1977
    Serie “Hom´mere III - L´Ergonaute”
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Il Explose", 1977
    Serie “Hom´mere III - L´Ergonaute”
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Etre Hommonde", 1977
    Serie “Hom´mere III - L´Ergonaute”
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Etre Atout", 1977
    Serie “Hom´mere III - L´Ergonaute”
  • Roberto Matta
    (Chile,1911-Italia,2002)
    "Vitreurs", 1977
    Serie “Hom´mere III - L´Ergonaute”

“The Five Musicians”

The five Musicians

Leopoldo Torres Agüero
Argentina, 1925-1995

The five musicians, 1953
Oil on table
125 x 105 cm

Ralli Collection

Leopoldo Torres Agüero

Leopoldo Torres Agüero was born in Argentina in 1924 and died in Paris in 1995. He lived in the province of La Rioja (Argentina) until the age of 17, when he moved to Buenos Aires.

The masterpiece

Three periods can be clearly distinguished in his artistic production: an initial figurative stage, turning later to lyrical abstraction, and the third and final period known as sensitive geometry.

Interested in monumental work from the start of his career, he worked on bank buildings, theatres, and even in a church. He used marble, stainless steel, cloth and jute in his desire to continually experiment with materials.

Interested in monumental work from the start of his career, he worked on bank buildings, theatres, and even in a church. He used marble, stainless steel, cloth and jute in his desire to continually experiment with materials.

Line, synthesis and chance

In the mid-1950s, when Torres Agüero travelled to France, his figurative period had already reached a point at which synthesis was at its height: forms were flat and geometric, with thick lines and strong colours. This manner of experimenting with form brought him closer to movements like Cubism, and his use of colour to Fauvism. His work “Los cinco músicos” corresponds to this period, and can be related to Picasso’s creations if we look closely at both its aesthetics and themes.

He lived in Japan between 1959 and 1962, an experience that was to change him both personally and artistically. There he was to delve deeper into his study of the spontaneity of line, colours, lights and shadows. On his return to Paris he continued bringing all of these ideas to life in his work, further developing the vertical and horizontal lines that he now related to the symbolism of yin and yang; masculine and feminine; the earth and the sky.

His work took the step from lyrical abstraction to geometric abstraction. He developed theories of op-art and kinetic art but using his own personal method in line with his artistic principles. Based on geometric compositions with regular framing and simple forms, he created his own “sensitive geometry”.

Torres Agüero died in Paris in 1995 whilst acting as Argentine ambassador to UNESCO. In his work of this period he was experimenting with depth through large compositions with textures in the backgrounds.

“The other, the same”

     

 

 

Rodolfo Opazo
Chile, 1935

 

El otro, el mismo, 1993
The other, the same
Oil on canvas
160 x 135 cm

Ralli Collection

 

Rodolfo Opazo Bernales. Chilean painter, born in Santiago de Chile in 1935. Having only completed one year at the Santiago School of Fine Arts in 1953, his artistic training took place at Taller 99, where he learned the technique of hand engraving with the master Nemesio Antúnez. In 1961, he was awarded the Pan-American Union scholarship, thanks to which he continued his training at New York’s Pratt Graphic Art Center.

Influenced by the work of Modigliani, Roberto Matta and Enrique Zañartu, he produces works with an abstract language and high symbolic content. At times, his aesthetic deliberately seeks to allude to the artists who had a great influence on him. In his work, he also makes reference to contemporary literature, as we see in this artwork “El otro, el mismo”, an allusion to the collection of texts and poems that Jorge Luis Borges himself produced and which was published in 1964.

In his paintings, the artist shows his unique vision of life and art. This vision was to evolve throughout his career, as did the themes represented. In the first stage, he starts with abstraction, later heading towards figurative art with indefinite anthropomorphic forms, seeking to reflect the mysticism of man.

His introspective and reflexive attitude formally translates into complex and changing paintings, in which several dimensions and scenes appear to coexist simultaneously, which together with the mystical thematic and the interior of the human being make it fit within Surrealism.

From the 1980s, he started to create work that reflects the condition of contemporary man, continuously faced with his pain and loneliness, with colour becoming more intense and forms that start to decay once again into the landscape.

The creator of a body of work rich in styles and themes, and at the forefront of his country’s pictorial avant-garde since the 1950s, he is also one of the most internationally recognised contemporary Chilean artists.

 

“La creación del mundo según el mito Mapuche”

 

Mario Toral
Chile, 1934

La creación del mundo según el mito Mapuche, 1993

The creation of the world according to the Mapuche mythology
Oil and acrylic on canvas
150 x 230 cm

Ralli Collection

Preparatory work for the Mural Project “Memoria Visual de una Nación” [A Visual Memory of a Nation], inaugurated in 1996.

 

Mario Toral was born on the 12th February 1934 in Santiago de Chile. He completed his art studies at the Fine Arts School of Uruguay and Henri Adam's Workshop in Paris. He is a member of the Fine Arts Academy of the Institute of Chile and has received many acknowledgements during his fruitful career.

The great variety of techniques used, from paint, photography, engravings, illustrations to the completion of documentaries are the highlights of his work.

The work of art “A Visual Memory of a Nation” emerges from within a large project called MetroArte, which intends to bring art closer to the citizen. This mural by Mario Toral is located in the University of Chile metro station, right in the city centre. It covers 1,200 m2 and has six panels in total, where the artist distinguishes between Past and Present. Each of these parts includes three panels with different scenes alluding to the history and the collective imagination of the moment.

Toral seeks to recover a collective memory where all peoples feel identified. To do this, he represents historical facts, geography, local mythology and characters, such as indigenous heroes, presidents and poets. It is a journey from the origins, through the pre-Hispanic past, the conquest, the creation of a Republic State until the present day and modernity.

Muralism was one of the most significant aesthetic and cultural productions in America, with living its splendour during the 20th century. The revival happening in Chile as well as in other Ibero-American countries aims to bring the art back to the masses, attempting, as always, to eliminate the elitist nature that has characterised it.

According to the Mapuche mythology and Toral’s words: 

“The world was created and destroyed by two snakes: MaiMai and TenTen. The head of God Pillan, God of Volcanoes and of Fire, observes. He is a benevolent God that protects humanity (...) A stone figure represents the Mapuche warrior, war being the noblest activity of the race. He has a representation of a bludgeon, a bone or stone object, symbol of the investiture of the Toqui or the chief. There are scenes of daily life, bodies in a river, cacti, shells".  

Mario Toral, 2002.
Memoria Visual de una Nación [A Visual Memory of a Nation]

 

“La Familia Informal”

 

 

 

 

 

Herman Braun-Vega
Lima, Peru, 1933


La Familia Informal, 1992

The Informal Family
Acrilic on board
Triptych

250 x 520 cm

Ralli Collection

 

Peruvian artist with strong links to European art and painting. His work is removed from contemporary Peruvian artistic production, but not from its themes. His artistic language, which some have described as hyperrealist, transcends reality, but in a different sense as his painting is replete with symbols.

He has lived and painted in France since 1978 and occupies a prominent position in the New Figuration group.

Braun-Vega’s artistic production is marked by different stages of influence in which there are notable allusions or references to specific artists. His artworks also stand out for their social and political criticism with constant references to the situation in Latin America, miscegenation and the wealthy ruling classes, as well as everyday life.

Worthy of a special mention is the so-called “North-South” theme in his work, which began in 1891 and continues to this day. Here he reflects on cultural relationships and different periods by contrasting the masters of classical European painting with the Latin American reality of the time when the painting takes shape.

Technical, historical, artistic and cultural miscegenation is the dominant thread throughout his oeuvre, of which his painting La Familia Informal is the maximum expression. This triptych is part of the series “PERU/SPAIN, Memorias al desnudo”, created for the 1992 exhibition at the former Museum of Contemporary Art in Madrid. It deals with syncretism and ethnic and artistic cultural miscegenation.

Cultural miscegenation allows the artist to combine elements from different periods and cultures freely with different artistic techniques and languages. The only matter of concern to the artist throughout this process of miscegenation is aesthetic unity and the coherence of the end result. Here, therefore, we see a series of historical and artistic references from different periods alongside everyday characters and situations.

In this triptych, both the work and the title make a clear reference to Las Meninas by Velázquez. With the “Informal” family, Braun-Vega is referring to the informal economy of underdeveloped countries: a family system that ranges from relatives to domestic servants who do not pay taxes. “Informal” is also the way in which defenders of racial purity look upon miscegenation, although this idea would seem impossible after five centuries of ethnic, cultural and religious miscegenation. For Braun-Vega, the entire American continent, both north and south, is today the result of all the mixing and blending that has taken place, giving us the society we have today.

These are not the only references we come across; like a cartoon or a comic strip, images come about and are interwoven. Some of them have had their moment and speak to us of this time and of the present, while others are current. We find an accumulation of images that, in the way that symbols do, allow us to reveal the work’s final message. No element is put in place randomly; no reference is in vain.

 

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