Antonio Saura, Painting at Will

29 February - 26 March 2024

Opera Gallery London is thrilled to present "Painting at Will", an exhibition of artworks of Antonio Saura in collaboration with Succession Antonio Saura and the Fondation Archives Antonio Saura. This exhibition showcases a carefully curated selection of 27 remarkable artworks, encompassing a wide range of mediums such as paintings, works on paper, and canvas. These extraordinary pieces, created between 1959 and 1997, offer a captivating journey through Saura's artistic evolution.

 

Throughout his prolific career, Saura delved into various themes that reflected his existential and aesthetic exploration. The exhibition invites visitors to immerse themselves in Saura's profound reflections on Crucifixions, Crowds, and Imaginary Portraits, which served as catalysts for his artistic growth. While renowned for his mastery in painting, Saura's artistic prowess extended into sculpture, writing, printmaking, and even theatre set design, leaving an indelible mark on the art world.

 

One of the highlights of this exhibition is Saura's Auto-da-fé series, a collection of paintings that pays homage to his artistic ingenuity. These works were created using torn-out covers of books, a technique he originated four decades ago. This innovative approach not only showcases Saura's unique artistic vision but also reflects his ability to push the boundaries of traditional art forms.

 

Premiering at Opera Gallery Madrid in 2023, this traveling exhibition is a testament to Saura's enduring artistic legacy, even 26 years after his passing. It serves as a platform to examine his significant contributions to the art historical canon in Spain and beyond. By showcasing his masterpieces, the exhibition aims to shed light on Saura's profound exploration of the human condition, addressing themes of existential angst and the processing of pain.

 

Saura's artistic style is characterised by a restrained colour palette of black and white, bold brushstrokes, and distorted figures. Through these expressive elements, he delves into the depths of human emotions, often returning to motifs such as crucifixions, crowd scenes, women, and nudes. Another recurring motif in Saura's work is Goya's Dog, a reference to Francisco de Goya's iconic painting The Dog (circa 1819-1823). Like Goya, Saura employs this symbol to convey the inevitability of death and evoke feelings of futility, hopelessness, and isolation. This powerful symbol serves as a cornerstone of Saura's artistic practice, leaving a profound impact on viewers.

 

Emerging from postwar Spain in the late 1950s, Saura played a pivotal role as a founding member of the El Paso Group. This influential collective, which included artists like Manolo Millares, embraced informalism and challenged the conventions of traditional European aesthetics. Their innovative approach laid the groundwork for the post-war avant-garde movement in Spain, leaving an indelible mark on the country's artistic landscape.

 

Despite the challenging political climate of censorship and dictatorship during the grey decades in Spain, Saura's artistic voice transcended borders. He exhibited extensively across Europe and the USA, gaining international recognition for his remarkable talent. His works were showcased in solo shows in galleries such as the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York (1961, 1971) and retrospectives in renowned institutions like the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Netherlands (1963), Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (1966), Musée Rath in Geneva, IVAM Valencia, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (1989-1990). Notable retrospectives of his work have taken place at Kunstmuseum Bern (2012) and Museum Wiesbaden (2013). Throughout his career, Saura received numerous prestigious awards, including the Guggenheim New York International Prize (1960), the Grand Prix des Arts de la Ville de Paris (1995), and the Carnegie Award for his contribution to documenta Kassel (1964).

 

Do not miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the captivating world of Antonio Saura and witness the enduring impact of his artistic genius.

Antonio Saura in his studio, 1998 © José María Alguersuari

SELECTED WORKS