“Sins and Virtues”

Sins and Virtues from Carmen Aldunate
Litografía "La Paciencia" Carmen Aldunate





Carmen Aldunate
Chile, 1940

La Paciencia, 1993

Litography and watercolour
Ed. 1/30
57 x 45 cm

Colección Ralli
© Carmen Aldunate, VEGAP, Málaga, 2020

Carmen Aldunate

Carmen Zita Aldunate Salas, was born on 10 February 1940 in Viña del Mar (Valparaiso), Chile, although she is closely linked to the Argentine artistic scene due to her role within the Argentine New Figuration group.

Her studies began at the School of Fine Arts of the Catholic University of Chile, then continued at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Chile. She later worked as an assistant in the Department of Art at the University of California, USA. Throughout her career she has worked as a drawing and painting teacher at the Catholic University, and in various private academies and schools.

The artist works mainly with oil on canvas and on wooden boards, but also with pencil drawings and collages.

With a clear influence from 15th-century Flemish painting, Aldunate combines great technical skill with a narrative rich in psychological and symbolic content. The human figure, in particular females, is the protagonist in her work.

The series

The Sins and Virtues (Pecados y Virtudes) series from 1993 is made up of fourteen lithographs with watercolour highlights in which the Chilean artist represents the seven deadly sins – pride, greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, envy and sloth – along with their opposing virtues – humility, kindness, chastity, patience, temperance, charity and diligence. In them we see her characteristic female figures dressed in voluminous robes, tunics and coifs, transporting us to medieval times.

The predominance of line and rationalised drawing, along with the composition and use of vanishing points consciously reminds us of Flemish painting. Aldunate thereby tries to retrieve the canons of beauty that once defined classical beauty. Alongside this, the use of colour in her work gives it the appearance of enigmatic atmospheres and psychological states that we see in these lithographs.

In contrast with the subtlety and delicacy of colour and line, she represents severe and harsh faces which appear masklike, and the clothing turns into a kind of armour that hides the human being that resides underneath.

Aldunate’s work, with an amiable presence but critical content, uses sarcasm and humour to denounce the oppression of the female sex that suffers and has suffered for centuries. She therefore depicts female figures with idealised faces and forms under elegant and flowing clothing, in reference to the demanding and irrational canons of beauty to which women have been subjected throughout history.

The exploration of individual psychology and states of the soul are also a recurring theme in her work. This series, Sins and Virtues, precisely reflects on the power of religion and the dominance of society, and of the role of women within it.

“Woman with scorpions”

Litografía Mujer con Alacranes



Francisco Toledo
Mexico, 1940-2019

Woman with scorpions, 1985
Ed. 11/50
56 x 76 cm

Ralli Collection
© Francisco Toledo, VEGAP, Málaga, 2020

Francisco Toledo

Francisco Benjamín López Toledo was born in Juchitán, Oaxaca (Mexico), in 1940. A multi-faceted artist, he dedicates his life and work to promoting and disseminating the culture and arts of his home state of Oaxaca.

As an independent artist, he did not get involved in the nationalist themes represented by the Mexican School. His work is based on the Zapotec tradition, from which he borrows themes and techniques, although he is also strongly and directly influenced by the contemporary language of artists such as Rufino Tamayo, Paul Klee, Jean Dubuffet and Antonio Tapiés.

Whether paintings or prints, weavings and ceramics, his works present a striking use of colour. He includes textures and materials to offer an aesthetic that falls somewhere between innovation and tradition, creating a fantastic world of his own with recurring themes and iconography. Therefore, the relationships of his work with the earth, air, and hybrid and fantastic insects and semi-human beings, arranged in space without order or rules, are constant features in his representations.

Meaning of intention

Woman with Scorpions represents an anthropomorphic being with a feminine body and forms, with scorpion tails emerging from her head and limbs. Two common themes in Toledo’s work come together here: the depiction of local insects and animals, and the other, the representation of imaginary, hybrid beings, a succession of metamorphic and analogue images that could well be typical of surrealism.

Toledo creates his own mythological universe, full of these beings from his own particular bestiary, accompanied by references to both the modern day and pre-Columbian culture.

A work of art, multiple meanings

The representation of concentric rectangular forms, one inside another, that we find in this work can be perceived with a sense of relief or of depth, although they are represented on a flat surface without the slightest hint of perspective. The connotations of this perception or interpretation can vary hugely. They could, for example, be Aztec pyramids seen from above, or represent a large and vertiginous black hole. Whatever the perspective from which we wish to look at it, we cannot ignore the fact that the clothes worn by the scorpion-woman also have these rectangles printed on them, which makes her turn into part of the landscape. The reference to mythology and local factors in this individual makes us lean more towards the first reading; however, the symbology does not end here.

The representation of the woman, semi-human or otherwise, refers to femininity, to desire, a theme that is also typical in Toledo’s work, as well as to motherhood and the origin of the world. Specifically, one of the symbolic readings of the scorpions is sexual desire, but they are also a symbol of death.

This entire framework of multiple readings reveals to us the symbolic complexity and breadth found in this and the other works by Toledo, created from deep-down within a set of references and influences, current and from the past, from mythology and reality.

“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.


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).


“The other, the same”



Rodolfo Opazo
Chile, 1935


The other, the same, 1993
Oil on canvas
160 x 135 cm

Ralli Collection
© Rodolfo Opazo, VEGAP, Málaga, 2020



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.


“The creation of the world according to the Mapuche mythology”

Mario Toral
Chile, 1934

The creation of the world according to the Mapuche mythology, 1993

Oil and acrylic on canvas
150 x 230 cm

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

Ralli Collection
© Mario Toral Muñoz, VEGAP, Málaga, 2020


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]


“The Informal Family”






Herman Braun-Vega
Lima, Peru, 1933

The Informal Family, 1992

Acrilic on board

250 x 520 cm

Ralli Collection
© Herman Braun-Vega, VEGAP, Málaga, 2020


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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