Permanent Collection

Darío Villalba

San Sebastián, 1939

Villalba’s paintings are a clear example of the ties that can exist between apparently opposite approaches, such as informalism and pop art, both present in his work. Due to this particularity, Villalba’s production does not fit into a specific category and is ultimately self-referential. In fact, we could say this is its distinctive trait.

"Espacios negros" [Black Spaces], 1978
"Espacios negros" [Black Spaces], 1978

In the late 1960s, Villalba worked with enlarged black and white photographic images with which he made emulsions on canvas employing a technique that was both innovative and unorthodox. The tragic subject matter of his paintings, with their dark core, was highlighted by the use of fragmented, distorted compositions and recurring images of agony, to which he added vibrant black and gray brushstrokes, partially covering the images and thus increasing the dramatic effect of the work.

In the late 1970s, once Villalba had exhausted the possibilities of juxtaposing two visual worlds, pictorial elements became dominant in his work, taking the place previously occupied by the photographs. In other words, he chose to work with gestural brushstrokes, covering the entire surface of his works with pictorial material, chiefly black paint. Espacios negros is an extreme example of this approach towards painting, which brings Villalba’s work closer to minimal art. However, following this first incursion into the avant-garde movements in vogue at the time, Villalba passionately returned to the haunting images of his past, creating a series of bituminous paintings—of which the present work is an example —that convey a sensual quality by means of their flesh-like texture.

Javier Maderuelo

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Catálogo del Museu Fundación Juan March, Palma de Mallorca.