Budapest, January 2003. Eduardo Arroyo was finishing the preparations for a retrospective at the Ludwig Museum, located on the eastern bank of the Danube, from a distance. However, his greatest concern these days was to find a boxer, named Istvan Kovash, known in the ring as Koko Kovash (also by La Cobra), middleweight champion, in 1996, in Atlanta, against Cuban Arnaldo Mesa . He met with him, after chasing his shadow through the city – it is a saying – and ended up eating together in his own restaurant. Kovash did not understand why the interest of a renowned artist, a dandy point, and that he was going to exhibit in a major museum in the city, was interested in him, a boxer retired after receiving a great beating. He had treated him before in Hamburg, whose pugilist circles Arroyo knew well, and he was still shocked by his fall and intelligence. He remembered how the Argentine Pablo Chacón annihilated him in a fight, when the Kovash hung up the gloves. Arroyo insisted on justifying his obsession with that young fighter: he was the direct heir of Lazlo Papp, the only Hungarian who had fought professionally until then. Papp left an indelible mark: on December 6, 1963, he fought Luis Folledo in Madrid. I doubt that Arroyo could attend the fight, unless he crossed the border clandestinely, since he had been "exiled" in Paris, like the great ones.
It can be understood that the paintings and the book that he dedicated to Panama Al Brown is not an anecdote. Behind him, Kovash, Papp, Folledo, there was only the interest of knowing how to overcome failure. It seemed to me that wearing white socks with tailored suits, as he did, was a way to prevent failure. The question was absurd, as can be seen, but he answered that with that supposed bad taste (not even tennis, like those of Michel Jackson!) Was announcing his right to paint a bad picture. And he painted many, because, in addition, he painted a lot, in all the orders of the Spanish political-cultural life. He liked Picabia, De Chirico, Max Ernst, Derain, "makers of bad pictures, maybe great, but failures," he confessed in an interview.
Maybe Arroyo planned his own failure, because in reality what he wanted to be was a writer and not a painter, a world he also detested. In this sense, his painting shows some technical deficiencies that he himself avoided correcting in exchange for building a very personal narrative structure: Snow white -white, like my socks, existed-, Byron, Joyce, White White -white white, like a pair of my calcentines- and their beloved suicides, Alberto Greco and the poet and boxer Arthur Cravan. He did not believe in the evolution of his painting – what remedy – but in that each painting had its own life, like that mysterious chimney sweep that a taxi driver ran over in Zurich, according to his testimony, stained with soot and played with a hat.
It was not easy for Arroyo to make his way under the weight of a hegemonic school of "social-democratic informalism." Let's not forget that he worked for a time under the appellation of origin of "Realismo madrileño" and it would not be bad to remember now that he was avoided by all means -without violence- that he exhibited in a planned exhibition at the Miró Foundation in Barcelona. Arroyo did not give up body to body because he never practiced Zen philosophy, because what he liked to talk about was money. «Sure, Tàpies never talks about money», I dropped looking for the headline. "No, he speaks Zen, zenthos," he replied. Time has passed, even those he called "autonomous artists."
It did not hurt that the artists talked about money, as bullfighters do, and that they forgot that kitsch of "art for art's sake", those "zenthos" that multiply like droplets of mercury. There is no greater satisfaction for an artist who wore white socks than someone deprived of something for buying a work.