Gerardo Delgado

Galería Montenegro

The work of the Sevillean painter Gerardo Delgado is in constant evolution. With a formative background in constructivism, he began in the early ’70s to use a theoretical support inspired by American minimalist abstraction. Yet without giving up certain logical presuppositions, he allowed himself a margin of risk. Since 1981 Delgado has made geometry the exponent of his work, simultaneously making it a more autonomous graphic quantity and aggressively deconstructing it, grinding it into the scumbled surface of the painting. The isolated geometric element—a triangle, a trapezoid—loses its precision, its lines and borders broken to become more integrated into the pictorial and atmospheric magma surrounding it; paradoxically, this heightens one’s perception of its inherent structure. It seems as if the conflict that Delgado sets up between the rational and the irrational has found a point of equilibrium.

From this broken geometry Delgado has derived the other configurations in his most recent paintings, all of which are serial variations on romantic themes: “En la Ciudad Blanca” (In the white city, 1984 ), inspired by the 1983 Alain Tanner film about a Swiss expatriate in Lisbon; “Las Ruinas” (The ruins, 1985), a remembrance of ancient Italy; and “El Archipiélago” (The archipelago, 1985), inspired by the nostalgic evocation of classical Greece in Friedrich Hölderlin’s poems.

In the “Ruinas” series each composition is determined by elliptical lines, which offset and compensate for the nervous and unruly flow of the brushstrokes. The underlying oval form refers to the Roman amphitheater, a symbol for the broken architecture of an ancient city. The paintings in this series are wholly abstract in appearance, yet even if we were to disavow the painter’s source of inspiration, the allusions to the destruction of a civilization would be quite clear overall.

In “El Archipiélago” the schematic ellipsis in the background of each painting—here emblematic of an island of the Grecian archipelago—is also treated individually in each work, like an island that, although part of an ensemble, possesses peculiarities of climate and geography that differentiate it substantially from the others. However, the geometric diagrams have now been absorbed almost entirely into the fluid brushwork. The painting travels across the surface of the support, pursuing a unitarian and free course of action. In this series Delgado has become immersed in those problems that have to do with pure painting—pictorial facture. He allows his intuition and sensibility to manifest itself in a dark palette and a tendency toward grisaille, at times evoking vague landscapes and at others allowing immediately identifiable strokes, traces of drawing, to stand out. Moreover, the artist has incorporated the object; impoverished and residual, it is smoothly integrated into the totality of each work. Metallic planks and wooden branches, manufactured and natural materials, combine to make concrete an ambiguous memory of the archipelago.

Aurora Garcia

Translated from the Spanish by Hanna Hannah.