Biography of Carlos Alcolea (1949-1992)

Spanish painter, born in a Coruña in 1949 and died in Madrid in 1992. It is one of the representatives of the so-called painting of the eighties or new figuration Madrilena that developed in Madrid in the Decade of the 1970s and 1980s, the wake of the recovery of the painting that started in solitary Luis Gordillo and which was formed as one of the pictorial movements most stimulating this end of century Spanish art.

As a child, Alcolea moved with his family to Seville. Son of a notary, was raised in a cultured family and received a careful education especially in knowledge of classical music. During a long childhood disease that retained him in his house, he/she made an overview of the nourished and select family library, reading Proust and Dostoevskyamong others.

In 1967, settled in College mayor Alfonso X El Sabio of Madrid to start the career of law. Madrid cultural circles, including regular Gallery Juana Mordó, won a competition of painting in his dormitory which was his first painting, abstract, and expressionist style fact that led him to leave the race to devote himself to painting. That same year, 1968, he/she traveled to Paris and discovered, through some catalogs, the painting by David Hockney, Kitaj and Jim Dine; shortly after, he/she met the painter Luis Gordillo. This decisive encounter with pop painting summed it up the artist in an interview published in Arteguia in 1980: "Until then I had thought that the painting was Tapies and things he/she had seen in Juan Mordó".

His first solo exhibition presented in the Amadis Gallery in 1971. This gallery is the first nucleus of gestation of what would later become known as painting of the eighties or new figuration Madrilena, in its director, Juan Antoni Aguirre art critic and painter Luis Gordillo had an important driving role. The Gallery brought together a group of artists (initially formed by Carlos Franco, Rafael Pérez Mínguez, Guillermo Pérez Villalta and the own Carlos Alcolea, which Manolo Quejido and Herminio Molero is joined, later) that, with reference to the work that had begun in solitary Gordillo, began a passionate defence and recovery of the painting as an artistic medium, against dominant trends of conceptual art - without that must conclude therefore that this group debated these trends, even to participate in artistic actions or projects clearly defended within conceptual art. This peculiar pictorial movement, one of the most fertile of the Spanish contemporary painting, did not only impact outside our borders, despite being one of the most interesting manifestations of return to painting, of greater depth and artistic quality which occurred on the international scene.

In this first exhibition of Alcolea Amadis appeared for the first time two themes that would be recurring throughout his artistic career, swimming pools - no doubt indebted those of his admired Hockney - and the first version of the nude descending the staircase by Marcel Duchamp (admired artist which was famous among his friends, the exhaustive bibliography that had gathered Alcolea). He/She obtained a great success in the artistic environment in which his career unfolded and followed important exhibitions showing new figurative painting, as well as two singles (at the end of 1971 in the room Doncel in Pamplona and the Daniel Gallery in Madrid), which appeared again the subject of swimming pools. In 1972 he/she participated in the Organization of the (legendary) Congress of artists known as the Pamplona encounters.

The Buades Gallery which, under the direction of Mercedes Buades, took over from the Amadis Gallery in the promotion of the artists of the new figuration Madrilena, with a joint exhibition of Carlos Alcolea and Carlos Franco was opened in 1974. From then on, and during which it remained of the 1970s and throughout the Decade of 1980, he/she regularly exhibited in this gallery that gathered on his lathe critics Juan Manuel Bonet, Francisco Rivas and Ángel González, who, in addition to the aforementioned Juan Antonio Aguirre, were architects of a great work of diffusion of this pictorial movement. The Buades Gallery published a magazine concerning his work and eponymous which brought important texts of Alcolea. In that same year he/she traveled to New York; in this and his trips to this city, Paris or Milan, augmented his collection of catalogues of artists who had a decisive influence both in his work of artists from its surroundings, that often spent hours in his Studio admiring your library, composed not only of art books. By then, this group of painters had earned the nickname of the unbearable, your custom, animated primarily by the eccentric personality of Rafael Pérez Mínguez, appear to be extremely fine throughout, but especially in the choice of materials of painting, with the consequent irritation of his interlocutors that in the words of Alcolea: "(a pesar de ser) all lie"pure pose... were gripping teeth and went".

In 1975 it opened in Buades solo exhibition entitled Queens of London, in which arose the film Carlos Alcolea extensions made by Baldomero Concejo and Nacho Criado about his work. This exhibition was followed by those of 1978, where he/she presented her book Gray Book, edited by the Gallery, and in 1979 he/she showed some of his most important paintings, like Matisse's day / Matisse of night or Mickey Mouse. The maze.

In 1980, year in which appeared in his work a new theme, the drunkards, the Spanish Museum of contemporary art dedicated an exhibition retrospective, which brought together his most important work: among others, some pictures of swimming pools, two versions of the nude descending a staircase or glasses and Republic pictures. That same year released under the label Francisco Rivas Editor, his book learning to swim.

In 1986 he/she made a solo exhibition of paintings at the Gallery La Cúpula (Madrid) and did not return to perform an exhibition of this type until the end of 1991, in the Gallery of Gamarra and Garrigues (Madrid).

In September 1992, after making his last individual exhibition in the Gallery Miguel Marcos de Zaragoza, died in Madrid at the age of 43 years, because of a severe renal, fatally increased condition by a late and voluntary inclination to alcohol; Although perhaps the real key to his untimely death must be sought in his phrase: "Like everything else, the paint kills", that summarizes its twenty years of passionate commitment to painting, at a time in which the painters it had nothing easy.

His work, always associated with the figure of Luis Gordillo and Hockney, cannot be considered a mere continuation of the proposals of these. Their influence is only a starting point to develop a different type of paint. With Gordillo shared many of its creation, including psychoanalysis as a catalyst for artistic creation; but Alcolea invested the painting process of Gordillo, creating illusionary spaces where moved his characters, the spaces generated exclusively from the pictorial plane of Gordillo. Also, in some way, invested the Hockney painting: both shared their capacity of narration, make credible their everyday scenes, but while the English painter is recreated in the image that is private to the point of transmitting the viewer the sensation to contemplate something immodest, Alcolea characters are exhibited a fun - and perhaps for this reason-disturbing.

All influences that can be easily tracked to analyze his painting, any of its many references, educated or private, to the history of painting or pop imagery, cease to be of importance to the contemplation of his paintings; meticulously executed based on layers of acrylic paint semiopacas, introduce the Viewer to his narrative play, constructed from a certain pose of pure pictorial skill, which, on the other hand, did not have, and an almost mathematical construction. Are painting (expression coined in those years and which was not liked much this artist) that arises before the Viewer as if anything like that has never happened.

This artist left at his death a nearly mythical trail among those who knew him, that accompanies the painting of the eighties and which possibly has not contributed to a general assessment of his figure in its fair terms, as one of the most important painters of the Spanish contemporary scene.

In 1992, he/she received the national prize of Visual Arts posthumously.In 1997, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia dedicated an exhibition to anthology, accompanied by the Catalogue Raisonné of his work and the reissue facsimile of his book learning to swim.

His work can be seen at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid (Matisse of day / night, 1977 Matisse), the Museo de Navarra or the Museo Municipal de Madrid (the painter and his model, 1974), and form part of some of the most important private collections of Spanish painting.


Gray Book, Madrid, 1978. Learn how to swim, Madrid, 1980.Ed. facsimile of Notepad 1991-1992. Carlos Alcolea. Madrid, 1993."The true story of the Llanero Solitario", EL PASEANTE, number 2, Madrid, 1986.""" To turn the Apple ", EL PASEANTE, number 5, Madrid, 1987."Soon brings both the latest"South Express, no. 12, Madrid, 1988.


ALAMINOS, E. catalogue exposure: Carlos Alcolea, Gallery Buades, Madrid, 1978.

AGUIRRE, Juan Antonio, catalogue exposure: Carlos Alcolea, Spanish Museum of contemporary art, Madrid, 1980.

BONET, Juan Manuel: "one of the great", ABC, Madrid, September 21, 1992.

BULNES, P. catalogue exposure: Carlos Alcolea, Gallery Buades, Madrid, 1979.

CALVO SERRALLER, Francisco: "the death of Alcolea leaves Madrid figuration without one of their key figures", EL PAÍS, Madrid, September 21, 1992.

Fernandez CID, Miguel: "presented a facsimile of a book of notes and drawings of Carlos Alcolea", DIARIO 16, Madrid, may 29, 1993.

GÓMEZ DE LIAÑO, Ignacio, catalogue exposure: Alcolea "Hermas (to Carlos Alcolea)", Gallery Columella, Madrid, 1988.

Gomez DE LIANO, Ignacio and GONZÁLEZ, Ángel, catalogue exposure: Carlos Alcolea, Gallery Gamarra and Garrigues, Madrid, 1991.

GONZÁLEZ, Ángel and BONET, Juan Manuel. Exhibition catalogue: 'Carlos Alcolea', Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Madrid, 1997. (This catalogue contains the Catalogue Raisonné of the work of Alcolea, as well as a comprehensive bibliography on the painter).

GORDILLO, Luis: "reason for a death", ABC, Madrid, September 21, 1992.

NAVARRO, j. in exhibition catalogue: "The Swordsman against the spider's Web" Alcolea. Room 16, Barcelona, 1989.

UTRAY, Javier. Exhibition catalogue: "Metamorphosis of Mickey Fenix", Alcolea, gallery the dome, Madrid, 1986.