Death in the Afternoon
Original title: Muerte en la tarde
Mixed media on canvas with painted wood
Dimensions: 263.5 x 215 cm
Reference: ACF0373
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During the 1980s, Delgado’s painting followed a genetic process in which a theme or subject, understood as a context of ideas or an intellectual climate, went beyond mere pretext to constitute a gaze that was both reflective and contemplative, lending substance, coherence and meaning to paintings organised in series. This process involved a period for ideas to slowly settle out and for the painting to develop. During this stage he rigorously tackled both formal problems and more interpretative and poetic ones more related to the subject. This is not painting characterised by quotations or erudition; although his work took on the weight of history, it was dominated by intuitive approaches, visual solutions that implied a narrative closely linked to a poetics of evocation and, above all, a deeply pictorial gaze. El caminante opens a metaphorical one-way journey to its own interior, like a route of introspection along lost paths, roads lined with difficulties. The journey is also a metaphor for life, and painting appears as a consolation, but also as a struggle and a way of affirming the tensions and contradictions that comprise an attitude. Parallel to the desolate world of Schubert, autobiographical elements are inserted into the series, giving rise to a cathartic process of affirmation and change. When he began this series, Delgado was unable to see himself as a member of any pictorial generation; he felt that the pictorial context in which his work was situated was not properly understood, and through these works he constructed a space for reflection, where there was room for both thought and emotion. The first works of ‘El caminante’ are from the series that immediately preceded it, ‘El archipiélago’. In the first group of works, to which El caminante nº 1 (1986) belongs, the artist establishes a duality constructed by two vertical canvases that form a diptych, in this case joined by a piece of worn-out wood that accentuates the landscape image which lends unity to the entire series. Other works that came immediately afterwards, such as Muerte en la tarde (1986), focus on a single canvas partly framed by worn-out, cracked pieces of wood, referring to the most despairing, waning moments of some of the Lieder in Schubert’s cycle, the ones in which death can be intuited in the stark landscape (Letzte Hoffnung), in the grey colour of the hair (Der greise Kopf) or in the presence of a crow (Die Krähe). Later he established a horizontal duality that stresses the essential condition of landscapes, reducing the size of his pieces and making the painting plainer, concentrating the darkness of subtle, nuanced colour fields in the lower part of the diptychs. El caminante. La isla. El manantial (1992) belongs to this period. Here the series, which as we have seen was initially full of bitter autobiographical resonances, gradually becomes more diaphanous and hopeful. With great precision, the three works in the Fundación ”la Caixa” Collection trace the complex development of the series, the central core of Delgado’s work, whose variations and changes reflect the evolution of his creative process.

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