It is always a privilege to view a gathering of artworks created by the same hand that hail from different eras, because through them you can admire how much an artist has grown and changed. Sometimes, you see a marked improvement in style, how sensibilities and awareness got sharper.
Such is the case of Catalan artist Francesc Artigau, who is currently enjoying a retrospective of the last five decades of his work in the Castel de Benedormiens, curated by Barbara Marchi in the city of Platja d’Aro along the Costa Brava.
The show is laid out across two floors, where Artigau’s vividly coloured paintings will continue to pop off the stone walls until the middle of September. Walking through the picturesque Castel, visitors are given the opportunity to admire choral scenes culled from the artist’s everyday life (his fascinating studio in Barcelona’s Born neighbourhood is the veritable soul of the art scene there).
Elements from his memories and actual people he has known during his life get mixed together in lively and spontaneous compositions, where echoes from ancient classical cultures and references to art history make cameo appearances here and there. Most notably there’s Artigau’s love for the figure of Max Beckman, a character who wanders into the painter’s frames multiple times, and stylised Picassoan faces.
Artigau is considered a master of drawing, having until recently taught for several years at the prestigious EINA University School of Art and Design. Thanks to his gregarious attitude he has always been surrounded by colleagues and friends, and respected by his contemporaries who often show up in his paintings, alongside a beloved canine friend named Trufa and the elegant French model Frederique.
Inspired by Mediterranean cultures and applauded by both critics and the vox populi, Artigau uses a plain and open language, that speaks to the heart with striking juxtapositions of bright hues. His blues recall Grecian tides, his siennas offer up memories of trips to Tuscany, and so on.
The artist was born into a family of Barcelona-based theatre craftsmen, and he assisted his father in making stage props throughout his teen years. Artigau was strongly influenced by Professor F.P. Verrie, and clings to a passion for Piero della Francesca. His works can be seen in many public and private Spanish collections, and he continues to work daily in his timeless studio on Carrer de Sant Pere Més Baix, where he’s been breathing life into his creations since 1966.
Text and photographs by Diana di Nuzzo