Rafael Canogar | Original prints, lithographs, etchings and illustrated books




Rafael Canogar (Toledo, 1935) is a Spanish painter, one of the main representatives of abstract art in Spain.

Disciple of Daniel Vázquez Díaz (1948-1953), in his early works he found a way to reach the vanguard and, very soon, to study abstraction in depth.

Initially he used a scultopictorica technique: with his hands he scratched or crushed the pasta that vibrated on flat colored backgrounds. It was a painting in which the initial gesture comes directly from the heart. At this point Canogar embodied the best of material painting.

In 1957 he founded with other artists (A. Saura, M. Millares, Luis Feito and Pablo Serrano), and with the critic José Ayllón the Madrid El Paso group. It is influenced by action painting. Between 1957 and 1960, they defended an informal aesthetic and the opening of Franco's Spain to the international scene. Informalism was eminently an expression of freedom, of the unrepeatable and unique, realized with direct and spontaneous calligraphy. Works eminently intuitive and passionate, performed with the urgency that time, age and theories claim. For Canogar, informalism was something substantial and mystical, self-assertion and self-realization. But that radical position could not, according to Canogar, remain indefinitely without "academy" and insufficient to communicate and express the tension of reality, of the new social and political consciousness that it has aroused in the world.

The third dimension has finally given a solution to the new work, to its second period, which, from 1963 onwards, gradually returns to the reality of an increasingly figurative complex figuration. The incorporation of new materials allows the viewer to be projected into reality, with explicit reference and an inevitable attempt to involve the viewer in a collective drama. The critic Vicente Aguilera Cerní has ​​written about these works by Canogar «The themes do not express opinions, they reflect facts, but the facts are human dramas, they are reified images in which man, object and quantity acquire symbolic hierarchy ... ».

In 1974 he participated together with Wolf Vostell, Edward Kienholz and other artists in Berlin in the activities of ADA - Aktionen der Avantgarde.

In 1975 he abandoned realism and during a period he made eminently abstract works, an analysis of painting, of support, of the two-dimensionality of painting. But Canogar needed to invent a new iconography, recover the memory and - in homage to the historic avant-garde - what he did through the mask, the head, the face, like a representation of the man who loses his individuality and becomes a sign of plastic, together with a coat hanger on which to hang the painting.4 Canogar makes his work, as a structural part of his work, the reality of the human being who lives immersed and his own contradictions.

In 1982 he received the National Plastic Arts Award. There are his works in various museums of modern art: Cuenca, Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Turin, Rome, Caracas and Pittsburg (Carnegie Institute), etc.

Among the positions he held include:

    Member of the Board of Directors of the Madrid Circle of Fine Arts between 1983 and 1986.
    Member of the Advisory Board of the General Directorate of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Culture in the period 1981-1982 and 1983-1984.
    Member of the National Heritage Board of Directors between 1984 and 1987.
    He is part of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in San Fernando, where he joined in 1998.