Eduardo Arroyo
Spain, 1937
2018
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Eduardo Arroyo—a painter, sculptor, illustrator, engraver, stage designer and writer—began his career as a writer and caricaturist in the field of journalism, the discipline he studied at university. It was his work in this area that led to him moving to Paris in 1957, as he sought, like so many others, to flee the bloody and oppressive Franco dictatorship. He embarked on a career as a painter in the early 1960s, opting for figuration at a time when abstraction and expressionism were the dominant trends in the market and on the international art scene. The recurring themes in his paintings, which have remained more or less unchanged, were primarily figures of dictators, who at the time held power in many countries in Southern Europe, South and Central America, Africa and the Communist Bloc, though Arroyo focused almost exclusively on those closest to home; a challenging or demystification of major figures in the history of modern art, particularly Joan Miró, whom the artist perhaps wished to reproach for his decision to remain in Spain, and later Marcel Duchamp, whom Arroyo and other adherents of Nouveau Réalisme buried in a public ceremony (an act that brought him brief fame); and finally, portraits or ‘epiphanies’ of well-known singers, boxers and show business figures. He was forced to flee the regime’s police after his work was exhibited at the Biosca gallery in 1963. In 1974 he was expelled from Spain for political reasons. He only returned to the country in 1976, following Franco’s death, and his work began to draw public and media attention in the early 1980s. The works by Arroyo held in the ”la Caixa” Collection—four pieces from different stages in his career—reflect the recurring themes mentioned above. In the earliest piece, Muerte del poeta Miguel Hernández (1966), the artist instrumentalises Miró-style figures. La forza del destino: Kid Chocolate (1972) is a portrait of one of the most internationally renowned Cuban boxers (Arroyo has also produced works that pay tribute to Arthur Cravan, written a book about ‘Panama’ Al Brown, and authored a play about boxing entitled Bantam). Retrato-Peintre, a collage executed in 1975, represents a painter–secret policeman with scraps of sandpaper stuck to his face. Finally, Carmen Amaya frit des sardines au Waldorf Astoria (1985) refers to a remarkable but true event: the Spanish dancer’s stay in New York in the 1940s for an appearance on the The Ed Sullivan Show. As a set designer, his most notable successes are a 1982 production of La vida es sueño by Calderon de la Barca and a production of Tristan und Isolde presented at the Salzburg Festival in 1999.
Mariano Navarro

Artworks by the artist included in the Collection Artworks by the artist included in the Collection

  • Portrait - Painter / 1975

  • Death of the Poet Miguel Hernández / 1966

  • La forza del destino: Kid Chocolate / 1972

  • Carmen Amaya Fries Sardines at the Waldorf Astoria / 1988