Antonio López García – Humbly drawing great art out of a dirty bathroom

Spain is not my country, nor my parents’ and grandparents’ and any elders’ before them… but I have lived in it most of my life. My parents as well.

As a Catalan, I cannot appreciate this kind of imposed citizenship (imposed by the force of war and conquest; with all its colonial, absolutist background and inquisitorial ways). I mean I do not like Spain (mainly meaning Castile) in the least. But they have very good painters, whom I respect and, in several cases, I deeply admire.

(Just let me point out here, however, that some of the very best among them are either half-Portuguese –like Diego Rodrigues Da Silva Velázquez– or Greek –like El Greco– or Basque –like Ignacio Zuloaga–, etc.)

Antonio López García is one of them. One of the greatest Castilian painters from the mid 20th century onwards. To me, the greatest.

He was born in Tomelloso (Castilla la Nueva) in January 1936, months before the onset of the Spanish War, within a family of farmers.

López García has been alternatively considered a realist, a hyperrealist, a magic-realist and even a surrealist (which I think he is not; not a surrealist. The Castilian soul is quite adverse to it, and whatever instance you may recall to contradict me will most probably have other roots or be subject to other influences). Certainly, he has told that Dalí’s work left a mark on his painting but I appreciate much clearer links between López García’s work and the new European figurative tendencies (Dalí included, of course) and, even more, the American hyperrealism. He is not only a painter, but a great sculptor; masterly in most traditional media, like pencil drawing, oil painting, carved wood sculpture, clay sculpture, bas relief in plaster and several more; he had a classic training and all the references from the old Spanish masters (Velázquez and Zurbarán, very especially).

From the very beginning, López García faithfully adhered to familiar subjects: images of friends and relatives, humble objects of domestic surroundings, desolate spaces, views of his own garden and urban landscapes of his village. The pictures are sometimes worked on for more than twenty years, some of them –I would say most of them- remaining unfinished.

One of his most impressive masterworks, now kept at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, is “Lavabo y Espejo”, an oil on panel from 1967:

This is the whole painting as he did it; with two distict perspectives:

Antonio López - Lavabo y espejo - 1967
Antonio López García – Lavabo y espejo (1967 – oil on panel – 98 x 73.5 cm)

This amazing “double” painting followed some previous oils and pencil drawings of the complete bathroom in his studio (see “El Cuarto de Baño (The Bathroom)” below), and then, in 1968-71, he also painted the toilet bowl and the little window above:

El cuarto de baño (the bathroom) 1966, oil on panel
El Cuarto de Baño (The Bathroom) -1966, oil on panel, 228 x 119 cm.

[Maseveu collection, Madrid]

[Private collection]


I will make quite soon a second article about the “zen” paintings of flowers and fruits by this extraordinary artist. To end this first post, I just wish to add that López García is also a bit of a monk in his life and habits, and a very nice person; humble and plain and honest. He got from the first second all my admiration.


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