Biography

1923 - Laredo, Spain – 1994 Paris, France

ÁNGEL ALONSO
(1923 Laredo, Spain – 1994, Paris, France)

Between 1938 and 1939, after the fall of Bilbao during the Spanish Civil War, Ángel Alonso was arrested, imprisoned and sentenced to death. His family presented a clemency petition, which was then accepted.
He returns home but, a few months later, he is arrested again for desertion, not having completed the compulsory military service. He is deported to the island of Fuerteventura. Alonso manages to escape and, after a period of hiding, reaches the French border in 1947. At this point he permanently leaves Spain and heads to Paris.
The years he spent in prison constitute one of the foundations of his unbreakable friendship with Maria Zambrano (1904-1991, Spanish essayist and philosopher) also a political refugee. They will come to know each other in the early 50s.

A series of fortunate encounters and friendships guide the first stage of his work: Vieira da Silva, Árpád Szenes and especially Pierre Tal-Coat and Nicolas de Staël. Guy Dumur in Nicolas de Staël, le combat avec l’ange, recalls: "He [de Staël] meets with known people. First of all, Georges Braque, whom he sees regularly, André Lanskoy, already mentioned, a young Spanish painter, Ángel Alonso".

In 1950, under the threat of extradition back to the Spain of Franco by the French authorities, a support committee is organized, composed among others, by Michel Leiris, Francis Ponge, Henri Calet and Pierre Descargues. Alonso will only get the French nationality in 1971 with the support of his stepfather, Roger Rigaud, former vice president of the Council of Paris.

In 1952, Ángel Alonso waives to exhibit his paintings at the prestigious Galerie Jeanne Bucher.

In 1955 he exhibits at the Galerie André Schoeller, which at this time represents Rebeyrolle, Fautrier, Messagier, Duvillier, Gnoli, Arroyo, etc. Starting from this exhibition his materials become denser.

In 1956, he moves to Laurencie, in Limousin, where he lived until 1961. There, Alonso begins to deepen his work on matter and landscape.

In 1962, he discovers the landscapes of Genainvilliers and immediately decides where to live and work, finding an endless source of inspiration and renewal. There he builds his studio.

From 1960 he develops his most important research to what could be a triptych of soil, coal and straw, sometimes mixed with clay and stone. He begins the series of large black paintings compounding coal dust, burned plants, straw, leaves and soil.

In 1972, he publishes under a pseudonym (A. Genainvilliers), a long poetic text that intrigues the readers of La Délirante (# 4/5).

Avec Beauté Cadavre et L’Âme noire et la Peinture, Lalaurencie Éditeur (posthumous edition, 1996), is one of his very rare publications, considering he didn't stop writing, driven by the same need and with the same rigor and creativity of his paintings.

In 1982, Alonso moves to the number 7 of rue Brézin, the studio of his friend Pierre Tal-Coat, whom offers it to him. For a long time he alternates between Genainvilliers and rue Brézin before moving permanently in the early 90s.

A year later, Alonso exhibits at Cahiers d'Art gallery. In his work, the color constitutes the landscape itself. With an exceptional expertise on the materials, he doesn't hesitate to create his own reds, greens, yellows, oranges ... springing from the porous surface of his paintings.

Between 1986 and 1989 the Galerie Barbier repeatedly exposes his work.

In 1987, Juan Carlos Marset, Spanish intellectual and academic, close to Maria Zambrano, meets Ángel Alonso in Paris, as part of his research on the philosopher, and becomes aware of the importance of the work by Alonso.

A major retrospective is then prepared in Spain, whereto the entire studio of Alonso is transported.

The Désastres series, exhibited in 1992 at the Galerie Sapone in Nice, is the result of his latest research.

The sudden death of Ángel Alonso in Paris on December 20, 1994, transforms this retrospective exhibition into a posthumous tribute. It will take place in France, at the Cervantes Institute (Paris, 1996), and in Spain in the Marcelino Botin Foundation (Santander, August-September 1996) and the Círculo de Bellas Artes (Madrid, January 1997).


In 1999 the gallery René Metras from Barcelona gathered pieces of different series in black and white under the title 'Blanc et noir'. In 2000 the gallery La Aurora from Murcia, thanks to the close collaboration between gallery and artistic curator Francisco Jarauta, exhibited pieces of small format with the same aesthetic line, as the previous exhibition.

In 2009, the Reina Sofia Museum (Madrid) buys a large number of his works, while the Spanish state becomes custodian of his archives (writings, correspondence, documents), aiming at the creation of a foundation in Santander.

In 2013, a large exhibition was celebrated at the Dreux Art Museum in France, where numerous pieces were gathered thanks to the efforts of private collections, art galleries, french public entities and the close collaboration of the Alonso family.

In 2014 was the first exhibition in Madrid at the gallery Michel Soskine Inc., where were exposed numerous inedited pieces together, that recomposes the complexity of his career and form a conceptual line about the materiality of his painting. In 2017, The second great exhibition of Angel Alonso was held in the new space of the gallery Michel Soskine Inc. in Madrid, through the same researching spirit of his work and figure.

Ángel Alonso

Ángel Alonso
© Jean-Jacques Alonso

Ángel Alonso (1923-1994) Fundación Marcelino Botín, Santander (Spain), 1996.

Ángel Alonso (1923-1994)
Fundación Marcelino Botín, Santander (Spain), 1996.

Exhibition catalogue: Fundación Marcelino Botín, Santander (Spain), 1996; Instituto Cervantes, Paris (France), 1996; Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid (Spain), 1997.
Texts by: Ángel Alonso; Francisco Jarauta Marión; Juan Carlos Marset; Fundación Marcelino Botín; Instituto Cervantes; Círculo de Bellas Artes (Madrid, Spain). 
Spanish / French
168 pages: illustrations (some color); 30 cm.
ISBN-10: 8487678491 / ISBN-13: 978-8487678493

Ángel Alonso (1923-1994), Somogy éditions d'Art (France), 2013.

Ángel Alonso (1923-1994)
Somogy éditions d'Art (France), 2013.

Exhibition catalogue: Conseil Général d'Eure-et-Loire, from October 10, 2013 until January 5, 2014.

Texts by: Pascal Bonafoux, Jean-Marc Providence and Juan Carlos Marset.
Texts in French.
128 pages: 80 illustrations (some color); 22 x 28 cm.
EAN : 9782757207543