We have come a long way together since that day in 1953 when you arrived at the gallery, 9ter boulevard du Montparnasse. Palazuelo had spoken to Louis Clayeux, then director of the Galerie Maeght, about you, and Clayeux, whose mind and heart were close to what Jeanne Bucher had made him discover, immediately directed you towards those who could understand and value you the most.
You came empty-handed and without any florid speech to show yourself to advantage. Your knowledge of the French language was elementary at best, but you already had what the large 1968 self-portrait reveals: the truth of a presence.
We met again a few days later in a studio near Saint-Lazare, in front of large, nervous, and intense compositions, with yellow and purple sparkles that vividly invoked the atmosphere of the arenas. It came from Spain, it evoked Spain in a non-illustrative way. Today, still, upon seeing again Fiesta, Parade, or the Corridas series, we are seduced by the dramatization of space expressed in an «abstract» style — musically abstract.
Then, upon reflection, and knowing now your first Zaragoza creations like Calavera or Calas negras, it seems obvious to us that your Corridas represented far more than a folkloric evocation or an image of a mythical spectacle. You were sorting out, for yourself and to yourself, a relationship with death, with death’s seriousness, with death accepted as a ritual; with inflicted death. For you too, as the poet wrote, «it was 5 o’clock in the afternoon…» You knew the witching hour and the dimension of the silence that went with it. What we discovered in these large, dynamic canvases, what we were unconsciously led to go through, was this load of truth that your modesty refused to name. It disturbed us enough, that day, that we immediately granted you our trust.
The small paintings, presented here for the first time along with a few bigger ones, pay tribute to the self-taught, solitary and quiet artist. Fermín Aguayo died suddenly in 1977, forty years ago. He left behind a dense, virtuosic oeuvre inhabited by a profound presence and a troubling humanity.
St Germain Space
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