Longhua Road Middle Station makes space for Spanish realism

Zhu Yile
"Antonio López and the Masters of Spanish Realism" is on display at the New Art Space on Longhua Road Middle Station on Shanghai Metro lines 7 and 12.
Zhu Yile
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In the heart of Shanghai, a captivating visual odyssey quietly unfolds in public spaces. Once again, the resplendent masterpieces of Spanish realist artists illuminate the city, inviting all citizens to indulge in an unmissable artistic feast. Set against the backdrop of the New Art Space at Longhua Rd M. Station on Shanghai Metro lines 7 and 12 (near Exit 1), the upcoming "Antonio López and the Masters of Spanish Realism" exhibition promises to be a cultural highlight.

Scheduled from November 29 to March 31 next year, this exhibition will showcase 46 exquisite works of world-renowned Spanish artists. It not only signifies an exploration of new horizons in public art but also marks the third enchanting convergence between subway art spaces and Spanish artistic brilliance. With guidance from the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum and Antonio López and María Moreno Studio, this exhibition is a testament to international collaboration. Supported by the Shanghai Shentong Metro Group and the Shanghai People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the event promises to be a harmonious blend of cultural exchange and artistic discovery, enriching the cultural fabric of Shanghai.

The Spanish Art Masters Trilogy was launched in 2018. Both the 2021 Prado Museum Exhibition and the 2022 "Dalí Triangle" Museum Collection Exhibition toured Beijing, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. The initiative aims to exhibit collections of Spanish museums and the works of world-renowned Spanish artists in public spaces. The Miguel de Cervantes Library will infuse new vitality into the Shanghai Metro's artistic space. Being close to the Shanghai West Bund Art Center is of added significance.

Longhua Road Middle Station makes space for Spanish realism

An exhibition titled "Antonio López and the Masters of Spanish Realism" is being held at the Longhua Road Middle Metro Station.

"This exhibition brings a visual feast to the people of Shanghai. The showcased artworks primarily focus on urban landscapes and indoor sketches, reflecting the direct depiction of life by the masters of that era. They skillfully combine personal experiences with real life, exuding a sense of tranquility, harmony, and peace," said Inma González Puy, director of the Cultural Section at the Consulate General of Spain in Shanghai and the Miguel de Cervantes Library.

"Shanghai is an international metropolis with a rich cultural heritage. The city boasts numerous top-notch museums that host outstanding world art exhibitions and performances annually. The Shanghai Metro, serving as the city's second space, is not only a mode of transportation but also a public space for citizens and tourists to experience Shanghai's international ambiance. It serves as a platform to showcase the charm of a city. As people hurriedly pass through, they engage in dialogue and exchange with art," Puy said.

"I believe this exhibition will undoubtedly enhance the people of Shanghai's understanding of Spain."

The exhibition features works by Spanish masters Miguel Ángel Argüello, Amalia Avia, Francisco López, José María Mezquita, María Moreno, Isabel Quintanilla, and Julio Vaquero. Explore Spanish realism painting and Antonio López's painstaking attention to detail and ability to evoke emotion in his works.

Longhua Road Middle Station makes space for Spanish realism

Isabel Quintanilla, "Bathroom," 1968. Oil on canvas. Private collection. © Isabel Quintanilla, VEGAP, Madrid, 2023.

Born on January 6, 1936, in Tomelloso, Ciudad Real, Spain, Antonio López García came from an agricultural family. After teaching at his alma mater from 1964 to 1969, he pursued a career in painting and sculpture. He was awarded the title of "Academician of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando" in 1993.

His uncle, Antonio López Torres, inspired him to study painting. His oil paintings, sketches, wood carvings, and reliefs convey his personality and sensibility, reaching great heights in contemporary realism.

His artistic style roughly underwent three phases: "representational," "magical," and "realistic." After 1956, López's painting style transformed as magical realism replaced expressionism.

Franz Roh coined the phrase magical realism in 1925 to describe late expressionism. Gabriel G. Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" popularized the genre in Latin American literature in the 1960s.

López eventually left magical realism after 1965, finding a way to merge vivid subjective experiences with genuine efficacy without having to choose between reflecting reality and duplicating it as his inner self. This led him to subjective realism.

From the start of his career, Antonio López preferred being on rooftops, building tops, and town-village borders. His artistic creativity entered a rich and profound "modern" domain through the faraway land connected to the sky.

In the 1950s, film also arrived on the outskirts of the city, where the streets, animals, and people's lives differed starkly from those in the city center, creating a surreal yet exceptionally real scene filled with contradictions and novel elements, presented in various art forms.

Longhua Road Middle Station makes space for Spanish realism

Antonio López, "Gran Vía," 1974-1981. Oil on canvas. Private collection. © Antonio López, VEGAP, Madrid, 2023.

Longhua Road Middle Station makes space for Spanish realism

Antonio López, "Sink and Mirror," 1967. Oil on canvas. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Private collection. © Antonio López, VEGAP, Madrid, 2023.

New realism emerged in 1950s and 1960s Spain and resonated globally, especially with European and American realism in the 1970s and 1980s. Through the distinct viewpoints of eight artists, this exhibition will traverse the internal and the external, appreciating the beauty of objects, light and shadow, and landscapes.

The exhibition features landscapes from Madrid, courtyard gardens as family spaces, door frames, windows, and the most realistic still lifes. Labor tools, garden flowers, food, and personal things are absent, depicting human existence.

Longhua Road Middle Station makes space for Spanish realism

Commuters at Shanghai's Longhua Metro Station stop by at the exhibition.

Longhua Road Middle Station makes space for Spanish realism

María Moreno, "Still Life with Watermelon," 1990. Oil on canvas. Private collection. © María Moreno, VEGAP, Madrid, 2023.

Students from the Beishuiwan Branch School of Jiading Experimental Elementary School will be asked to replicate paintings from the exhibition and share their creations.

Longhua Road Middle Station makes space for Spanish realism

A child admires a piece of artwork at the exhibition.

Date : November 29-March 31

Venue: The New Art Space of Longhua Road M. Station丨龙华中路站美术新空间

Address: Longhua Rd M. Station on Metro Lines 7/12 (near Exit 1) 丨上海地铁7/12号线龙华中路站美术新空间 (近1号口)

Tickets: Free

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