Permanent Collection

Francisco Farreras

Barcelona, 1927
Number 183, 1962Number 183, 1962

Farreras entered abstraction later than other Spanish artists of his generation. However, he was one of the painters selected by the MoMA for the 1960 New Spanish Painting and Sculpture exhibition. He studied in Murcia under Antonio Gómez Cano, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands) under Mariano de Cossío, and in Madrid under Daniel Vázquez Díaz at the School of Fine Arts. In the 1950s he produced a number of publicly commissioned works, including frescos, stainedglass windows and mosaics, in the figurative style of Carlos Pascual de Lara. In the biographical notes to one of his catalogs, Farreras explains with frankness the difficulties he experienced in making the jump to abstractionism as a result of his training under artists who were so moderately modern.

We will never find in Farreras' work the automatism underlying the abstract work of former surrealist painters nor the Generation of '98's violent passion for history. His is a subtle, carefully constructed pictorial world in which almost nothing happens and in which nothing is organized in plastic terms. As far as Farreras is concerned, "new materials" were simply a launching pad towards the more balanced art of collage. In 1959 he discovered the plastic possibilities of silk paper, which became the principal element of his work from then on. Within the Spanish abstract generation, there are several examples of painters who, like Farreras, consistently produced collages as part of their pictorial output—Antoni Tàpies, Gustavo Torner, Albert Ràfols-Casamada and Gerardo Rueda are just some examples.

José María Moreno Galván spoke of the "midday" of Farreras' late work. It is a pertinent metaphor, like so many of those employed by the critic from Seville, that provides a good explanation of the virtues of this chamber artist who creases silk paper and pastes it onto canvas, manipulating the folds and transparencies of the material, as can be seen in his work Número 183.

Red Collage, 1966Red Collage, 1966

Of all the artists whose works are on display in this museum, Farreras is probably the one in relation to which it is most difficult to identify "stages" or "phases." This discreet, secretive and solitary painter has never had a great fondness for groups and is austere in the presentation of solo exhibitions. It is almost as if he dwelled in a timeless plane, where chronological, evolutionary and historical matters were of no importance and had nothing to do with his silent work.

For instance, there is no substantial difference in terms of concept or execution between Collage rojo and Número 183 [Number 183], although the former was produced four years later. Everything we see is familiar to us—we are received by the same melody, subtlety and rigor, and by the same refinement in the folding of the silk paper and in the definition of the pictorial space created through this procedure.

Perhaps there is a small surprise in the choice of colors, which are "deeper" and more solemn—purple is always solemn. The poetic use of found papers is also new in Collage rojo, as one of his chosen papers incorporates printed ornamental motifs, in what could be a pale reflection of the picturesque, at times kitsch, motifs used by early cubists in their paintings.

Juan Manuel Bonet, en Catalog Museo de Arte Abstracto Español, Cuenca, Fundación Juan March, Madrid, 2016