Works by the most nonconformist painter, so highly sought after by the American Figurative Art market, are being exhibited for the first time ever in a Spanish museum in Málaga
CAC MÁLAGA PRESENTS ERIC FISCHL'S FIRST ART OF BULLFIGHTING
CAC Málaga - the city of Malaga's Centre for Contemporary Art - is presenting the first ever solo exhibition in a Spanish museum by Eric Fischl who, along with Alex Katz, is one of the most eminent American figurative painters of the second half of the 20th century. On show there will be large-format paintings and watercolours forming part of this New York artist's first art of bullfighting, created after he attended Ronda's Goyesque bullfight in 2007. Corrida in Ronda, the title of the exhibition curated by Fernando Francés, summarises the rich language of the artist's painting. There are two things about his works that are particularly outstanding and unique in contemporary painting: the use of backlighting to depict the toreadors' passes and the way he imbues them with an emotive charge.
Only 10 large-format works in total (six oil paintings and four watercolours) are needed to summarise Eric Fischl's perception of his first art of bullfighting in the most spectacular and truly telling way. One of the most classical themes of Spanish art in recent centuries, the art of bullfighting has been magnificently reviewed in the exhibition catalogue by the professor and art critic, Francisco Calvo Serraller. Corrida in Ronda is a collection of sensations, vibrations and emotions. It is a compendium of - and a fresh look at - a classical theme. It is also the impression of one of Spain's most ancestral customs seen through the eyes of an avant-garde artist.
A nonconformist from the word go, Eric Fischl has always been renowned for his inquisitiveness and his desire to experiment. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that one of the most famous bullfighting traditions in the world - Ronda's Goyesque bullfight - left a lasting impression on him. The toreadors taking part in the 2007 bullfight (the one that Eric Fischl attended) were the Rivera Ordóñez brothers - Francisco and Cayetano - and the Colombian César Rincón. Fischl did not hesitate for one second to launch into painting a theme that was completely new to him, the bullfighting world.
According to Fernando Francés, "the most surprising thing about Corrida in Ronda is Eric Fischl's approach to a theme that is very unusual for a contemporary American artist, bullfighting, which in no way alters his plastic conception of painting. It was not the clamour or the colourful nature of bullfighting that attracted his attention, but rather the tragic aspect of bullfights. That spurred him to focus his work on the passes the toreadors usually perform bravely and skilfully, or on the death of the bull."
Corrida in Ronda is surprising because of the expressive power the New York artist has given to the art of bullfighting; on these huge canvases there is nothing but the impressiveness of the bullfight, strong bulls and admirable toreadors. Here we are not looking at an artist of enamelled, uniform surfaces, but rather at a devotee of chiaroscuro. Consequently, light is one of the most significant aspects of his style, and in his works he uses strong contrasts of light that create a sensation of depth. There are some figures that demand a little effort to extract them from the semi-darkness, while others are almost painful to look at because of their overexposure to the sun, a technique that he uses to produce the highest degree of expressiveness in his characters.
Far from being balanced, predictable compositions, his paintings are photographic shots; in Corrida in Ronda, a toreador may be right in front of the lens whereas another figure may be cropped or out of focus. Fischl does not appear to be interested in the background, and to create the bullring he chooses a high angle that anchors the characters to the ground, thus preventing a landscape from being developed.
Fischl (New York, 1948), studied at the California Institute of Arts Valencia (United States). After working as a teacher for four years, his first solo exhibition was held at the Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax (Canada). Even though his initial works tended more towards abstraction, as from 1976 he began to introduce figurative elements. Finally, at the end of the 1970s, his style became realist, a style that is both powerfully expressive and clearly influenced by expressionist and American naturalist painters. The core theme of his oeuvre is sexuality. There are many representations of naked bodies in erotic poses, though often they exude a certain air of mystery, distress or oppression. Consequently, Fischl draws attention to the adulteration of moral values in modern American society. The artist is mostly known for his painting, though he has worked as a sculptor and photographer too.
Finally, Eric Fischl has created a four colour lithograph especially for CAC Málaga (Untitled, 2009, 70 x 100 cm), whose series is on sale at the centre and on online at www.cacmalaga.org.
The Flamenco guitarist Daniel Casares will be at CAC Málaga especially for the opening of Corrida in Ronda on 29 January at 8 pm. He will be performing some of the tracks from his latest album called Caballero, including "La Chacona" (Rondeña), "Carrusel" (Guajira) and "Romero" (Bulería). This young musician from Málaga has chosen these songs by drawing inspiration from Eric Fischl's work in Corrida in Ronda. Adding to the atmosphere at the opening of this exhibition at the City of Malaga's Centre for Contemporary Art, Daniel Casares will mix traditional Flamenco with the emerging sounds of Latin Jazz groove. A virtuoso of improvisation and technical sensuality, his live performance will be an example of unique, sophisticated Flamenco.