Fighter to the end | Culture

Fighter to the end | Culture

There are many streams in Eduardo Arroyo. He really liked the disguise, to present himself, to hide maybe, under the clothes of diverse characters, rather fictitious or legendary. We must be aware of this, if we really want to understand it, when we choose this or that facet of his life, be it the painter, the sculptor, the writer, the scenographer, to those who overlap the scathing critic or the fustigador of the evils of the country … among the many others that can be recognized. Arroyo has been all the characters at once and the pain, the only pity, is that today we are forced to refer to them in the past.

A passion goes through all the work of Arroyo: "What I have done has been dealing with politics", he confessed in the interview I did to him at this time last year on Understood as the permanent combat against this and that, it had many open fronts. Beginning with the most immediate, the Franco dictatorship and its sad daily consequences, mediocrity and arbitrariness, when not repressive brutality. Hence his voluntary exile and his roots in Paris, where he became a figurative painter in a new relentless battle this time against abstraction and the rather dictatorial legacy of Duchamp. In May 68, he became a professional revolutionary painter, painter of posters and collective works, even collectivists, with whom he and his tribe sought to make the system jump or change the world, major words, cyclopean projects for so little ammunition.

From all that remained a certain vision of Spain in foreshortening, distrustful, negative, even after the definitive return in 1982, with the democratic system settled and when it began to enjoy a certain public recognition. Since then, Arroyo organized his professional and artistic life in a dispersed European habitat, divided between France, Italy and Spain, right here in different territories.

Jorge Semprún said it, another exile that never returned definitively to the original land, "the being and the being of Eduardo Arroyo … settle forever in exile". This common condition and the political and intellectual affinities welded a permanent friendship that resulted in some artistic collaboration. One of the best dramatic pieces of Semprún, with a Brechtian title, Bleiche Mutter, zarte Schwester (Pale Mother, tender sister), was premiered in 1995 in Weimar with scenography by Arroyo and the artistic direction of Klaus M. Grüber, partenaire unique of the painter in all his abundant theatrical activity or joint operatic. The work of Semprún would be published later in France in 1998 with the title Le retour de Carola Neher (Hopefully soon appear in Spanish).

When Semprún died, his desire to be buried in Biriatou, the French border village that looks over the Bidasoa to the Basque and Navarrese lands of Spain, could not be fully fulfilled. His friends and family devised a posthumous tribute in such a symbolic square. Arroyo gave his friend and all those who want to remember the Spanish-French writer the stele with his portrait in granite stone that perpetuates his memory and attests to the solid friendship that united both.

Many of the combats engaged by Arroyo were losing virulence with the course of the years. Even "the paradise of the flies" which, according to Arroyo, had been Spain from the dark background of its history – and we must see how it filled enormous surfaces with such an annoying insect – was being left behind, as the country transformed. On the other hand, his diverse artistic production opened up to new themes. In his opinion, it became more mysterious, perhaps cryptic in the multiplicity of his messages. Arroyo has sustained a permanent battle in favor of a total painting that accounts for and synthesizes physical reality and even metaphysics, with its doses of admiration, parody or irony, as ambitious as that produced with the illusion of changing worlds or tearing down systems.

The same challenge has always been present, active until the end of his days, how the next table will be. Arroyo has been aware that this individual fight is always lost, usually to the points, similar to those of his admired fighters. "I always come back from the picture," he declared with sincerity. But that is not why he has stopped getting up, to try again and again, in spite of the adversities of age or the discouragement of living.

Now it will rest in its ancestral land of La Ciana (León), but its trophies, after many battles, will continue to populate our minds and our museums. Without going any further, a sample of his sculpture -which he could not inaugurate- is still exhibited in the Lozoya Tower of Segovia.


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