Rafael Canogar (Toledo, 1935)
Rafael Canogar is a key figure in the History of Contemporary Spanish Art as a founding member of the El Paso group (1957-1960) and a pioneer and representative of various artistic styles.
From a very young age, his aptitude for drawing and oil painting granted him an apprenticeship with Vázquez Díaz and, after leaving his studies in 1948 to focus on his art career, he began to use as an inspiration some of the great painters of his time, such as Braque, Picasso and Miró. In this first stage he embraces informalism with a great material focus.
In the 1950s he worked on several solo shows in Spain and soon also in Paris and various cities in Italy. Success accompanied him to the Venice and Alexandria Bineales and exhibitions in Barcelona, Brussels, New York and Rome. This rich atmosphere full of national and international painters and critics inspires him to join other young artists to create a common creative space and break with the isolation and stagnation Contemporary Spanish Art was facing. El Paso group only lasted 3 years but in that time its members managed to achieve their goal of completely changing the cultural landscape of the time, organizing numerous exhibitions, publications and other projects that continue to influence and inspire artists to this day.
From 1964 on, Canogar grew his presence in the United States and his painting began to devoid itself of matter to provide greater strength to the message, centered on the narrative chronicle and inspired by the images on the media. Informalism, which from his point of view had lost the vitality and rebellious spirit that had characterized him in the beginning, does not completely disappear from his work and continues to influence his technique and poetry. The investigation of materials leds him to find another of his hallmarks and, in 1967, wood and fiberglass-reinforced polyester become the basis of his work. His urban images acquire a third dimension, motivated by expressive needs that seek to make the human presence more real and impactful. However, in 1975, true to his artistic restlessness, Canogar returns to abstraction, which is now characterized by geometric shapes, a great importance of supports and materials, and compositions that evolve into large fields of color.
Until the 1980s Canogar had participated in countless competitions, seminars and solo and collective exhibitions all around Europe and USA, but it is in the 1990s when his fame and recognition truly become worldwide and his paintings travel to countries such as Chile, South Korea, Taiwan, Cuba, Egypt, Japan, Paraguay, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates.
Throughout his career he has received numerous distinctions and awards such as the National Prize for Plastic Arts (1982), the Chevalier L`Orde des Artes et Lettres de France (1985), the Culture Prize of the Community of Madrid (2006), the Ignazio Silone Prize for Culture in Rome (2009), the Grand Prize of the Spanish Association of Art Critics at ARCOmadrid 2010, the National Engraving Prize for the National Calcography of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts (2012) and the Medal of Honor, in recognition of his artistic production, awarded by the Spanish Association of Painters and Sculptors (2018). In addition to having held important positions such as Advisory Councilor of the General Directorate of Fine Arts of the Ministry of Culture, Member of the Board of Directors of the Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Contemporary Art Museum of Madrid, Member of the council Administration of the National Heritage – where he promoted the creation of the Contemporary Art Collection- and Member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando.
His works is part of important museums and public collections such as the the MOMA in New York, the Hamburg Kuntshalle in Germany, the Chicago Art Institute, the Museo Rufino Tamayo in Mexico, the MNCARS Madrid, the Spanish Abstract Art Museum in Cuenca, the “La Caixa” Foundation and the Banck of Spain Collection.
Works for sale by Rafael Canogar at Aurora Vigil-Escalera Art Gallery:
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