SAURA, Antonio

SAURA , Antonio  (1930 – 1998 )

Saura started painting and writing in Madrid in 1947 whilst ill with tuberculosis and temporarily immobile.

He adopted the influence of Arp and Tangut but with his own distinguished style. He produced many surreal drawings and paintings, mainly portrayals of imaginary landscapes creating a flat surface, smooth, and rich in colour.

He made his first trip to Paris in 1952 and subsequently visited again in 1954 and 1955. On one of his visits, he met Benjamin Péret and the surrealists, but soon parted company with them to join his friend and artist Simon Hantaï. He employed the grattage technique, adopting a gestural style and would create spontaneous paintings, which were radically abstract and colourful.

The first appearances of these forms will soon become archetypes of the female body or the human figure. These are two fundamental themes that will dominate the spirit of his work.

From 1956, Saura began his greatest works: ladies, nudes, self- portraits, shrouds and crucifixions, which were painted on canvas and paper.

In Madrid in 1957 he founded the El Paso group and was director until its closure in 1960. During this time he met Michel Tapié.

He exhibited at his first solo exhibition at the Rodolphe Stadler Gallery in Paris and would regularly exhibit there throughout his life. Stadler introduced him to Otto van de Loo in Munich and Pierre Matisse in New York. Both would represent him and exhibit his work at their galleries. Saura would limit his palette using only blacks, greys and browns in the style of Velázquez and Goya, and his work entered the finest museums.

From 1959, he developed a prolific body of graphic work and was noted for his unique illustrations in numerous books such as Don Quijote de Cervantes, Orwell’s 1984, Nostinger’s adaption of Pinocchio, Kafka’s diaries, Quevedo’s Three Visions, and many more.

In 1960 he began to create sculptures of welded metal elements, representing the human figure, characters and crucifixions.

In 1967 he finally settled in Paris. He was involved in the political opposition to the Franco dictatorship and participated in numerous debates and controversies in the field of politics and aesthetics. He also widened his thematic and pictorial register and would produce Mujer-sillon (Womanarmchair), El Perro de Goya (Goya’s Dog), imaginary portrait series and Imaginary Portraits of Goya.

In 1971 he would temporarily abandon painting on canvas to devote himself to writing, drawing and painting on paper.

From 1983 until his premature death in 1998 in Huesca, he would the best of his work revisiting and masterfully developing all his themes and figures.