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The nostalgic realism of Isabel Quintanilla makes history at the Thyssen

2024-02-26T19:14:24.831Z

Highlights: The Portrait intimate by Isabel Quintanilla is on display at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum until June 2. The Madrid artist, a master in the meticulous representation of everyday life, becomes the first Spaniard to whom the museum dedicates a monographic exhibition. The vast majority of the paintings are representations, from a frontal perspective, of the corners of his house, with small daily objects that can awaken memories in any viewer. The exhibition is a kind of autobiography of the artist through her domestic interior but by being absent from any human presence, they acquire a universal character.


The Madrid artist, a master in the meticulous representation of everyday life, becomes the first Spaniard to whom the Madrid museum dedicates a monographic exhibition


The writer John Koening defines

anemoia in his

Dictionary of Dark Sorrows as the feeling of nostalgia for moments and objects that we never experienced or had.

Missing something foreign.

Any memory could recognize the scene of a desk illuminated by a table lamp in the heart of the night, above it an old telephone with the dial to dial, agendas that mix with notebooks and, on the shelves below, a series of books piled up that accumulate dust.

This painting,

The Telephone

(1996), synthesizes the longing for everyday scenes pursued by the painter Isabel Quintanilla (1938-2017), the first Spanish artist to whom the Thyssen Museum dedicates an exhibition since it was founded in 1992: The

Portrait intimate by Isabel Quintanilla

,

which can be visited until June 2.

“Solitudes move me deeply, that lonely telephone, that place where there is a lot of hustle and bustle and suddenly it has gone silent.

That excites me so much that I want to try to paint it," Quintanilla told the curator of the exhibition, Leticia Cos, before dying, who has convinced gallery owners, institutions and collectors - concentrated, above all, in Germany - to bring together in the exhibition almost a hundred pieces that cover some seven decades of work by one of the greatest exponents of the group of realists who converged in Madrid around the fifties of the last century.

The vast majority of the paintings are representations, from a frontal perspective, of the corners of his house, with small daily objects that can awaken memories in any viewer: the clothes thrown on the toilet, the sewing machine with the plaster, the dishes unwashed.

Even in her still lifes she mixed fruits and flowers with personal artifacts such as a bag, a key, a purse or a newspaper.

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Reality ended the realists

“His painting is the same as his life.

Quintanilla could not paint something that did not represent his reality,” says Cos.

He refers to the exhibition as a “promise kept” with the Madrid artist.

“It was she who attracted attention in the exhibition that we dedicated in 2016 to the realists of Madrid.

It was a discovery for many people.”

Within this group-generation, of which only Antonio López (88 years old) remains alive, the exhibition dedicates some rooms to its female members with two pieces by María Moreno (1933-2020) and another four by Amalia Avia (1930-2011). .

They are paintings of gardens and interiors that do not clash with the tone of Quintanilla's extensive retrospective, which ranges from

La lamparilla

(1956), the oldest work preserved, to

Bodegón Siena

(2017), the last one he gave to his gallerist. shortly before passing away.

A large selection with which the Thyssen consummates its first individual exhibition by a Spanish author.

Previously, it had only organized monographs of international painters, such as Berthe Moristot (2011), Sonia Delaunay (2017) and Georgia O'Keefe (2021).

The work 'The telephone' (1996), by Isabel Quintanilla. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

The exhibition is a kind of autobiography of the artist through her domestic interior.

But by being absent from any human presence, they acquire a universal character.

There are few paintings in which she draws people, including her husband, Francisco López (also a member of the Madrid realists) in

Paco Writing

(1995).

In other works she evokes her family through belongings that defined them.

This is the case of

Homenaje a mi madre

(1971), where she evokes her using a sewing machine, scissors and a mold.

Quintanilla's concern to immortalize her environment was not only resolved with representations of simple artifacts of her daily life, but also of her gardens and surroundings through landscapes (the Madrid mountains, Castilla or Extremadura).

Of this last set, the large oil painting

Roma

(1998-1999) stands out for its detail and thoroughness, which she made during the four years she was in the Italian capital, where her husband was trained.

This work is one of many that came from Germany, where he best sold and showed his work.

She arrived in the Germanic country after meeting the dealer and co-founder of the Juana Mordó Gallery, Ernest Wuthenow, in 1970.

He offered to represent her, and in the seventies and eighties he got her dozens of individual exhibitions in Frankfurt, Hamburg and Darmstadt, as well as a presence at Documenta 6 in Kassel (1977).

“That her work was so popular in Germany has to do with the exhaustion that the country was having with the neo-avant-garde and a movement to recover realism was brewing,” says the artistic director of the Thyssen, Guillermo Solana.

The urban landscape 'Roma', which Quintanilla painted between 1998 and 1999.sebastian schobbert

The German market was surprised with his resounding mastery of technique and craft to capture reality, achieved through extensive academic training.

At the age of 11 he began attending classes in private workshops and at 15 he entered the Higher School of Fine Arts, where he graduated in 1959. He graduated in Fine Arts from the Complutense University of Madrid and received lessons from the painters Concha Gutiérrez Navas and Maroussia Valero.

He had a slow and precious pace: no more than three or four paintings a year.

He could return repeatedly to the same remote place he was painting to measure the changes in light.

In

Sunset in the studio

(1975) and

Nocturno

(1988-1989) he portrays a window and a table fifteen years apart.

Her meticulous work to get as close as possible to reality made her a revolutionary in times of conceptual art and informalism, favored by national authorities and institutions.

It wasn't her only battle.

“Quintanilla lived and worked at a time in the history of Spain in which women artists did not have the weight or prominence of male artists, an aspect that was not overlooked in her public statements to vindicate the value of their work and that of her companions,” recalls the presentation text of the exhibition at the Thyssen.

Her fight culminates with this milestone in the Thyssen.

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Source: elparis

All life articles on 2024-02-26

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