Eduardo Arroyo. Fundación Bancaja, 2024


This year marks six years since the death of Eduardo Arroyo, a critical and ironic artist who, from inside and outside Spain, approaching new figuration or Pop Art, taught us for decades original ways in approaching the notion of “ “the Spanish.”

His production, enormous both for its prolific nature and for the variety of his interests, has been articulated in two stages: the one before his exile (1958-1976) and the one after, from the Transition until his death in 2018. In the first He approached the postulates of the aforementioned new figuration and its narrativity, also to Pop in its most political aspect, but over the years he underlined the features that made his work a more personal work: interpretation, always based on of a critical humor, of the so-called Spanish theme; his nods to the great figures in the history of painting (not always classical, also to Duchamp or Miró) and a colorful comedy applied to national and international political issues. He knew how to notice, from his youth, the power of images and their immediacy, and he alternated, within those two general phases of his career, periods of greater provocation and audacity with others that were kinder, more prone to sarcasm

Perhaps one of his fundamental contributions has been his immersion, almost alchemical, in the field of collage: he worked with very varied materials, with all those that allowed him to express his messages, although he always returned to painting and oil. Added to his photographic or practically object collages are his forays into the fields of ceramics and sculpture; also in literature: he initially intended to be a writer and abandoned the idea, but he did not want to leave aside that facet, in its multiple forms. He is the author of an autobiography (Minutes of a will), a biography (Panama Al Brown), a personal guide to the Prado Museum (At the foot of the canyon), an essay (The Calaveras Trio: Goya, Benjamin and Byron, boxer) and the book of reflections Sardines in oil. These texts also constitute his legacy.

Eduardo Arroyo.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024

Until next September, the Bancaja Foundation is dedicating a retrospective to him, the first since his death: it consists of eighty pieces dated over half a century, the last being The ghost shipa work that Arroyo was working on just before he died, inspired by the music of The Flying Dutchman of Wagner and in that legend of the cursed sailor. Here yellow and primary colors compete strongly with Fantomas’ black mask.

Eduardo Arroyo.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024

María Oropesa curates a tour that gives an account of some of the different techniques that she cultivated (sculptures, drawings and collages) and that reviews the notes common to most of her career: her predilection for large formats, for vivid chromaticism, for the flattening of the compositions, normally lacking spatial depth, and by a figuration always approached from the parameters of contemporaneity.

It also addresses the multiplicity of topics he approached: political and social, although treated with irony, in his beginnings, and close to cinema, literature, music or history – in short, his concerns. intellectuals – as the decades passed. Images have been gathered dedicated to some of his recurring figures (chimney sweeps, flamencas, boxers, flies), others where he expressed his acid opposition to the dictatorship and some focused on the deconstruction of the topics associated with Spanish culture or linked to his deep interest. by writing, as is clear in titles, literary references or in some of the texts that complete this exhibition in the room.

Eduardo Arroyo.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024
Eduardo Arroyo.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024

His interpretation of the polyptych of The mystical lamb by the Van Eyck brothers, which he began in 2008. In this piece, the characters from the original work become current figures: Adam and Eve dress like men and women of today; the Virgin and Saint John read James Joyce and Stendhal; and, around them, the evangelical choirs become golden girls in “tribute to all those who put music to our paintings.”

Cain, for his part, uses a revolver to kill Abel; the flamenco stage moves to the Puerta de Alcalá and the Plaza de Castilla in Madrid; The donors become Citizen Kane and Peggy Guggenheim, and behind the two – the richest in the world, according to Arroyo – the artist placed the acronym of the dollar as a symbol of wealth and the Protestant mythology of money. Between Kane and Peggy, likewise, we see the saints turned into Van Gogh and Oscar Wilde, “two suicides of society”; and the judges and knights who go to worship the Lamb in the lower part of the altarpiece become dictators (Mobutu, Pinochet, Pol Pot, Franco, etc.), while Van Eyck’s hermits and pilgrims become emigrants and exiles whom Arroyo remembered often: Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein or the aforementioned Walter Benjamin. But perhaps the most relevant change in the Arroyo Lamb awaits us in the lower central panel: he replaced that animal, placed by Van Eyck as salvation and source of life, with a fabric populated by flies, associated with death; He thus modified the message of the work and provided one of his hallmarks, said fly.

Among the centers and funds that have lent works for this occasion are the Marlborough Gallery, the ABANCA Art Collection, the ICO Collections of Madrid, the P. Arroyo Collection, the Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao, the Valencian Institute of Modern Art , the Museum of Contemporary Art of Madrid, ARTIUM Museoa, the Azcona Foundation and some private collections.

Eduardo Arroyo.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024

Eduardo Arroyo.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024
Eduardo Arroyo.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024

Eduardo Arroyo


Plaza de Tetuán, 23


From February 23 to September 1, 2024

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