Gustavo Torner born 1925
Inscribed on the back 'GUSTAVO TORNER | HURTADO MENDOZA 2-2° | CUENCA - (ESPANA)'
Sheet metal and oil on canvas, 76 3/4 x 63 3/4 (195 x 162)
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1962
Exh: Modern Spanish Painting, Tate Gallery, January-February 1962 (80); Southampton Art Gallery, March 1962 (80); Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, March-April 1962 (80); Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, April-May 1962 (80)
Repr: Art International, VI, March 1962, p.67
The artist wrote (letter of 29 January 1970) that this work was finished expressly for the Tate Gallery exhibition of 1962.
'This picture in fact immediately preceded a period of great anguish. In trying to draw a kind of more or less objective analogy, we could call it cold, formal expressionism rather than a personal exploitation of human sorrow. Tormented material and empty space, in this case almost black but not entirely so.
'Of course it so happens that a work which has a very solid area and another area which is rather insubstantial, and which has the parts separated by a horizontal, always takes on the appearance of a landscape ...
'My reason for using unorthodox materials is simple. The principal contribution of non-formal abstraction (after surrealism and dada) has been to reveal that pictorial material and everyday material have their own expressive qualities, regardless of size, form, colour, etc. I am personally very conscious of this.
'From the technical point of view I am constantly varying my materials and methods just as earlier artists used to change their colours and especially their compositions. I try to devise textures rather than forms, just as in contemporary music one can compose with sounds without using the notes of the musical scale. And that is why I do not believe in experimental art, for art is necessarily experimental and should be so. Almost invariably works which are called "experimental" are simply studies which it has proved impossible to carry through to a final conclusion.
'Possibly my work is concerned with discovering relationships between contradictory elements so as to achieve a unity, which is the aspect of reality that impresses me most. All this is approached from an exclusively plastic point of view - to create a plastic unity - although it does not disturb me that my work also has literary, humorous, scientific or pseudo-scientific aspects.'
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.725-6, reproduced p.725