From July 1st to November 19th 2017, the Spanish figurative painter Eduardo Arroyo will take his place on the walls of the Fondation Maeght with an irony that plays with mythological or political scenographies. Eduardo Arroyo is today considered one of the great Spanish painters of his generation. He painted humanity through a play of images that come from society as well as history, the history of art and literature. He is also a writer and uses fragmented narration with humor and a taste for paradox. The result is an extremely constructed pictorial work which demonstrates a constant freedom. The Fondation Maeght’s exhibition illustrates this idea between the absurd and irony in its title: “Dans le respect des traditions”.
The Fondation Maeght will present a thematic exhibition of works produced since 1964, made up of well- known paintings as well as those never before seen, including a series of paintings created especially for this exhibition. It will show a number of drawings and a collection of sculptures including shaped stones and assemblies, between fiction and reality, like the hybrid head series including Dante-Cyrano de Bergerac and Tolstoy-Bécassine. Spectacular for its diversity of materials, for its wealth of characters and its range of colors, the arrangement of works will feature small theaters that concern such paintings as Agneau Mystique by Hubert and Jan van Eyck or the one bringing together the "vanitas”, skulls and flies in the Miró Courtyard.
"If art is one of the most insightful and accurate ways to understand human psychology, to bring the truth of an individual to light, it can also strive to express not the identity of a person but the identity of a "humanity", of a group of men confronted with time or history. Art takes a political dimension with Eduardo Arroyo when he attempts to represent the games, the symbols, the languages and the “chansons de geste” of this humanity," explains Olivier Kaeppelin. "Adrien Maeght and I also thought it was interesting to think about the dialogues that his work has with those of Léger and Picabia.”
Painting is somehow literary; and it is in this sense that I work on themes. There is a beginning, an end, characters, and the ambiguity specific to novels. It is therefore a story, as if I had written about fifteen novels ...
Born in 1937 in Madrid, Eduardo Arroyo is connected with the Narrative Figuration movement that developed in Europe in the early 1960s. A committed artist, Eduardo Arroyo refuses any complacent aestheticization of art and defends the exemplary nature of the work, the power of the image. He wants his painting to be accessible to the largest possible audience. His paintings are painted in flat colors, but he frequently uses collage. He also makes sculptures using clay, iron, stone, plaster and bronze. The use of nonsense and the absurd makes him a direct heir of Lewis Carroll and Francis Picabia.
Eduardo Arroyo uses images from our societies. He has always used them to demonstrate the effectiveness of art against ideologies, particularly when he left Franco's Spain in 1958 to live in exile in Paris. An activist in the May 1968 demonstrations, he became friends with Gilles Aillaud and Antonio Recalcati. Militant against the politics of the Caudillo, he turned towards the realities in Spain: the struggles, Franco, the dictatorship, the Church. Like Antonio Saura, a refugee in France, he became an actor of the resistance to this regime. The specter of what Spain would be until Franco's death, his "haunting Spain", has had a recurring presence in his paintings.
Eduardo Arroyo creates paintings of history and histories. He desecrates politicians and uses the great heroes or people of power as he sees fit: Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill, the Queen of England, etc. He also paints the history of art and of thought. In 2013, the Fondation Maeght exhibited the Dacha which spoke about philosophers and revolution and in 2017, it will present one of his great masterpieces entitled Ronde de nuit aux gourdins where he reinterprets the Rembrandt painting.
Eduardo Arroyo uses the imagery of the media, advertising photography, American cinema or film noir as it is the case with Blanco White depicting an empty character being observed by spies or with the actors from Toute la ville en parle series made in the 1980s and inspired by the eponymous film by John Ford in 1935.
Eduardo Arroyo plays with literature (Honoré de Balzac, Dante, Tolstoy, Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier, Oscar Wilde-Dorian Gray, James Joyce) and enjoys mixing some of these writers together, giving them a new identity. He plays with categories, styles and techniques and circulates in the history of the arts. In the exhibition rooms, he also encounters not Courbet but Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Ferdinand Hodler and Antonio Saura. Eduardo Arroyo turns, jabs and spins in the same way as some of the boxers he admires, like Panama Al Brown in a way, as painter and champion of noble art!