Permanent Collection

Francisco Farreras

Barcelona, 1927

Farreras received solid academic training as a muralist. His style later evolved towards a form of geometrical abstraction in which he experimented with paint and sand in an attempt to provide his paintings with a sense of textural richness. Still searching for new material qualities, in 1959 he began to employ gauze and translucent paper tinged with substances such as oil, tempera and wax. By transferring these papers to a painted surface, Farreras created a unique kind of collage that would come to define his oeuvre, which is noted for its expressive qualities.

"Número 209" [Number 209], 1963
Número 209 [Number 209], 1963

Overlapping different types of paper —in particular silk paper, due to its translucent quality—Farreras was able to test diverse materials, creating an interplay of components akin to layered glazes. In this manner, he created solid compositions based on the principles of classical symmetry. In addition, his work was often inspired on traditional Spanish tenebrist painting, as is the case of Número 209. The somber palette and manner in which the figure is highlighted against the background in this work, as if violently emerging from a dark setting, reveal similarities with the work produced in the 1960s by informalist painters such as Antonio Saura, Manuel Millares and Rafael Canogar, and the glaze effect recalls the style of Manuel Rivera—all of them artists with which Farreras shared more than just a formal interest.

In contrast to the provocative crudeness of many textured painting of the 1960s, the work of Farreras— who avoided overusing thick textures and violent clashes, since they tend to come across as forceful and artificial— appears elegant and self-contained.

Following a long period of isolation —the result of Franco’s program of national reconstruction, based on the concept of economic self-sufficiency, or "autarchy"—Spain participated in the New York 1964 World’s Fair, where it presented a sober yet elegant pavilion designed by architect Javier Carvajal. With the intent of awakening interest in Spain, special attention was paid both to the pavilion and the works in display. Consequently, painters and sculptors were selected on the basis of their ability to convey a modern, cultured and creative image of the country, in an attempt to emulate the public success attained by the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World’s Fair in 1937, which included Pablo Picasso’s celebrated Guernica.

Model for the Toledo
Restaurant Mural at the Spanish Pavilion in the New York World’s Fair, 1964
Model for the Toledo Restaurant Mural at the Spanish Pavilion in the New York World’s Fair, 1964

Due to Farreras’ knowledge of mural painting techniques, he was commissioned to create a mural that would preside over the restaurant where typical regional dishes made with original Spanish products were served. The walnut coffered ceiling and stoneware floors, designed in the same warm colors as the ceiling, set the tone for the venue. The mural also recreated this atmosphere, thereby becoming an integral part of the architecture.

Although Farreras painted the mural in the abstract and expressionist language that characterized his work, it is not an abstract painting but a true representation of Toledo—the view of the city was well known in the United States thanks to the painting by El Greco on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The Tagus River, running through the ravine, is clearly recognizable in this model, as are the cathedral tower, overlooking the city in the center of the mural, and the silhouette of the Alcántara Bridge on the far right.

Javier Maderuelo

Este texto sólo puede reproducirse citando su procedencia:
Catálogo del Museu Fundación Juan March, Palma de Mallorca.

Javier Maderuelo

Este texto sólo puede reproducirse citando su procedencia:
Catálogo del Museu Fundación Juan March, Palma de Mallorca.