Laxeiro – Luis Seoane Crossroads. Drawings 1930-1950

Curators Silvia Longueira, Javier Pérez Buján

The exhibition Laxeiro-Luis Seoane. Cruce de camiños. Debuxos 1930-1950 (Laxeiro-Luis Seoane. Crossroads. Drawings 1930-1950) brings together two of the most relevant and influential figures of 20th-century Galician art: Luis Seoane (Buenos Aires, 1910-A Coruña, 1979) and José Otero Abeledo, Laxeiro (Lalín, 1908-Vigo, 1996). Those two artists significantly contributed to the dignification and modernisation of Galician art through the rediscovery, appreciation and dissemination of certain features present in the architecture, traditions, nature and history of Galicia. They used them to create their own iconographies, a combination of all those elements with external influences, from the works of the old masters like Goya or Rembrandt, in Laxeiro’s case, to the European avant-garde movements or new fields like graphic design, in Seoane’s.

The exhibition has been curated by Javier Pérez Buján, director of the Fundación Laxeiro, and by Silvia Longueira, director of the Fundación Luis Seoane. Laxeiro-Luis Seoane. Cruce de camiños. Debuxos 1930-1950 was born from the collaboration between both institutions. It offers a selection of over one hundred illustrations created between 1930 and 1950. Those two decades were crucial to the development and subsequent evolution of their work.

Popular art and traditions, references to medieval architecture, the use of colour as a form of expression and the pursuit of an identity for Galician art are some of the elements that both artists have in common. Their friendship lasted for nearly a decade. In 1934 Seoane, with Carlos Maside’s help, organised Laxeiro’s first solo exhibition in Santiago de Compostela. They reunited long after, when they were both living in exile in Argentina, when Laxeiro took part in an exhibition showing the works of several artists, which was sponsored by the Galician Centre in Buenos Aires and organised by Seoane. However, their careers and interests couldn’t be more different on an artistic and intellectual level. Laxeiro did not care about offering an theoretical explanation of his paintings, but about painting as a fundamental form of expression, painting as a way of life; while for Seoane, the theory and the practice of art were inseparable, as were the multitude of media used to create it.

One of the first things that are noticeable about the selection of drawings included in the exhibition is the influence that the European avant-garde movements had on the portraits that Seoane did of authors like Carlos Martínez Barbeito or Ánxel Fole in the early 30s, or on his 1941 surrealist depiction of a dressmaker. The Galician artist would draw anything and everything that caught his attention or that interested him; he depicted the reality around him. He drew, up to three times, a very young Maruja; he drew artists and writers like Juan Gris and Feliciano Rolán; he illustrated books and magazines like Cabalgata… The exhibition includes other examples, like some pictures from his famous book Homenaje a la Torre de Hércules, or a small group of sketches that he did using wax crayons when he was staying in London, which show his skill in this medium.

Like Seoane, Laxeiro created illustrations all throughout his career. The pieces in this exhibition evidence his evolution as an artist, and many of the distinguishing traits of his style and themes. Popular scenes depicting washerwomen, fishmongers, peasants and animals; but also the peculiar atmosphere of cafés and small intellectual gatherings, which he frequented; or everyday scenes and sketches of indoor spaces… They all exemplify his amazing subtleness and skills. Laxeiro is most recognisable in his drawings of masks and carnivals, but also in his portraits, especially the ones of his colleagues and friends, like artists Carlos Maside and Álvaro Cebreiro. The artist himself, and his family, are also the subject matter of some of the pieces exhibited. They include drawings, some of them coloured, of urban and industrial landscapes. Beyond the themes they depict, they all show the evolution of a creator who, at the time on which the exhibition focuses, had already gone through different style periods and had reached his maturity.

The exhibition will be open at the Fundación Luis Seoane until 17 March 2019.