The vital and artistic course of Eduardo Arroyo, remembering the title of the first novel of his great friend the writer Jorge Semprún, can also be described as the long journey. Between platform and platform, between Paris, Berlin, Rome, Robles de Laciana or Madrid, between one studio and another, Arroyo's life was a constant coming and going. Neither the passing of the years, with his disappointments, nor the health failures have prevented him from continuing to travel through Spain and Europe as the quixotic character he painted not more than a year ago. The return of the crusades, delicious pastiche of the picador portrayed by Zuloaga in his famous The victim of the party. Arroyo's crusades have had little to do with religion and much with politics and art. Crusade against the Crusade of Francoism that led him into exile. Crusade, against the current, to make progress once more to the old discipline of painting, or as Jean Hélion said, that "the painting is the material proof of the accuracy of the idea".
Arroyo is undoubtedly the most international Spanish artist of his generation. From his youthful escape to Paris, in 1958, the same year that Oteiza culminated his experimental purpose, until the great retrospective exhibition held at the Maeght Foundation, in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, A year ago, our versatile artist, in addition to not getting off the train, has not stopped being present in the most demanding stages of European art. A generational partner, among others, of the painters Luis Gordillo and Antonio López, but also of Valerio Adami or David Hockney, we could no longer reconstruct the vision of Spain of the last fifty years without his multidisciplinary work, founded on the revolutionary beginnings of the Paris of 68. A vision, in any case, radically critical and ironic about history and reality, where the own condition of the artist and his Orteguian circumstances, soon become the main argument of his painting, so always narrative and conceptual at times.
An accomplished pastiche, I never cease to illuminate surprising metaphors about painting and painters, now converted into lonely Robinsons, brave fighters, when not in elegant chimney sweeps or bullfighters doing the paseíllo with their bodies studded with paint. Quoted without rest to his favorite writers and painters, illustrated the Ulises, by Joyce, copied The night round, Rembrandt, a life-size, rebuilding the lost parts, and wrote among other books a biography of the boxer Panama Al Brown and a personal guide of the Prado Museum entitled At the foot of the canyon. Arroyo, who, in a painting of the mid-sixties, was portrayed in the arms of Velázquez, recognizing a legitimate artistic fatherhood, has not stopped being that, at the bottom of the cannon, waiting with skepticism for the well-deserved prize that would reward his "vida y obra", that of one of the most relevant figures of Spanish and European art and thought of this last turn of the century.
But, in addition to resisting some other recognition, they have left many other things pending, such as the last big picture about the heroes of the Soviet Revolution that began painting in Robles this summer, or the most chimerical desire to illustrate The human comedy of his beloved Balzac. The truth is that this authentic Cyrano, a poet as a quarrelsome, in his particular long journey never lacked open causes for which to continue fighting, until today, which leaves us to the others composing his last Vanitas. Thank you, Eduardo for letting us carry the suitcases.
Miguel Zugaza He is director of the Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao.