Grupo El Paso. Fundación Bancaja, 2024


“EL PASO was born as a consequence of the grouping of several painters and writers who, through different paths, have understood the moral need to carry out an action within their country.”

Thus began the manifesto that, in March 1957, the painters Rafael Canogar, Luis Feito, Juana Francés, Manuel Millares, Antonio Saura, Manuel Rivera, Pablo Serrano and Antonio Suárez signed together with the writers Manuel Conde and José Ayllón, and which would give start with the El Paso group, to which Martín Chirino and Manuel Viola later joined. In addition to being their starting point, this manifesto was a consequence of the need for change that they claimed to experience with respect to the dominant postulates in creation in our country in previous decades; also of the urgency of consolidating an art system that would allow its production to be exhibited and made known: they intended to invigorate contemporary Spanish art, which has such brilliant antecedents, but which at the present time, lacking constructive criticism, “marchands”, exhibition halls that guide the public and fans that support any innovative attitude, is going through an acute crisis.

It became their purpose to put an end to the prevailing academicism, and they tried to achieve it under the influence of the late Goya and abstract expressionism and using techniques linked to that movement and informalism: they applied dripping to their works, used supports such as burlap or metal fabric. , they used sand, glued objects to their canvases or scratched them, and used the volume of pasta to give rise to a new concept of pictorial space.

The collective’s first exhibition would arrive in that same year, 1957, at the Buchholz Gallery in Madrid, and others would follow in international events until its dissolution three years later: at the Sao Paulo Biennale (1957), the Venice Biennale ( 1958), the exhibition “New Spanish Painting and Sculpture” (1960) at the MoMA in New York and, finally, the L’Attico Gallery in Rome.

El Paso Group.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024
El Paso Group.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024

His activity was brief, but not his influence, which is why the Bancaja Foundation hosts, this summer in Valencia, an anthology that brings together 72 works by Canogar, Chirino, Feito, Juana Francés, Millares, Rivera, Saura, Pablo Serrano, Suárez and Viola which date back to those three years and which has been curated by Lola Durán Úcar. Some of them were part of the aforementioned international exhibitions and, in any case, they also bring together the technical diversity in which they were handled: we will contemplate paintings (in oil and with mixed technique, in which the pigments coexist with metallic fabric, wire or metal ); drawings (Indian ink, gouaches on paper) and sculptures made in timeless materials, such as stone, or markedly contemporary, such as iron. Although they had in common keeping a very intentional distance from classical canons and a critical impulse, each of these authors maintained, both in the late fifties and in the rest of their careers, their own paths, personal versions of that shared intense expressiveness, of a maximum chromatic reduction at times and a belief in the value of the artist’s commitment to the reality of his time.

If Feito sought a condensation of matter and Saura, gestures in monochromaticism, Pablo Serrano used iron to pursue Dadaist challenges, in the same way that Millares expressed existential tear through burlap, and Rivera, through metallic fabrics. The non-color of the night inspired Viola, Canogar wanted the pulsating line and Chirino made it in a way as intricate and subject to metaphors as the spiral stamped it.

The tour is completed by a chapter of original documentation about the group: some of their main editions and publications have arrived in Valencia, as well as copies of catalogs of the exhibitions in which they participated.

El Paso Group.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024
El Paso Group.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024

El Paso Group.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024
El Paso Group.  Bancaja Foundation, 2024

El Paso Group


Plaza de Tetuán, 23


From April 5 to September 8, 2024

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