Antonio Agudo’s life began in 1940 in the city of Seville, Spain, and, since childhood, has been in a constant relationship with painting. He began his artistic studies at the age of twelve in a decrepit School of Arts and Crafts, later transferring to the head building of such institution, where, with more favourable conditions, he familiarises himself with clothed human models, as well as the, then traditional, cast models. While studying high school (Bachillerato superior), he is introduced to commercial drawing in a family run photo-offset business. In 1961 he spends the year in Madrid attending drawing lessons as well as working in a publicity studio.
On his return to Seville, he attends the Fine Art School (Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes) while continuing to draw for studios and publicity agencies, and even establishing his own graphic design studio. He finishes his studies in 1967 and travels to Paris with two friends to encounter Picasso for the first time at the great exhibition organised by the Grand and Petit Palais and the Biblioteque National. Antonio continues alternating between graphic and painting work up to 1971, when joins the Fine Art School (today a college) as a teacher of the subject “Drawing of Classic Statues”. Since then, he gradually stops doing graphic work for publicity and focuses fully on painting and teaching.
Engraving and Rebellion
Right up to the academic year of 1976/77 he teaches both drawing and engraving, the latter a subject which he approaches with enthusiasm, at a time when the use of the technique was at its prime in Seville, culminating in the establishing of a group called ¨the Seville engravers”, of which Antonio was part. In it, there was up to a dozen painters with their own engraving studios who had many individual and collective exhibitions. The last of such, organised by the Andalusian Regional Cultural Office in 1995 was “25 years of engraving in Andalusia”.
In this period of intense artistic and academic activity he has several individual exhibitions in Oviedo, Madrid, Las Palmas in the Canaries and Seville. In 1977, he has to leave the Art School, together with two other teachers, due to a confrontation with the management about the topically traditional approach carried out in the school. His return to teaching in the same school, by then a college, happens 10 years after his dismissal. Some friends and colleagues, who were always against his “exile” and whose insistence won over Antonio’s reticence, facilitated his return.
Intensity and Latin America
During those ten years, exhibitions of his drawings, paintings and engravings come one after another in Seville, Madrid, Granada, Washington, Quito and other locations. In his prevalence for artistic manifestations as a whole he also exhibited and was very active in organising the “Seville Painting Festivals” sponsored by “El Monte” (a banking institution) from 1982 to ’84. He was also involved in an event, which promised to continue due to its excellent outcome (the “1st Latin American Serial Art Biennale), sponsored by the Andalusian government in 1986. For this event, Antonio was in charge of the Mexican/Central American section and managed to embark a gallery owner from Los Angeles (Luis Remba) in the adventure to show for the first time in Spain the graphic works of Rufino Tamayo, not without having previously obtained permission from the artist’s wife in a Mexico devastated by the earthquake in 1985.
Antonio Agudo has a special bond with Mexico and Guatemala. He has visited those beautiful countries at length almost every single year since 1977, when he went to Guatemala for the first time. His wife, an anthropologist who’s involved with those countries in a scientific and particularly human way, introduces Antonio to them. By his wife’s hand, the painter travels across thousands of square metres and, as a result of those experiences, produces an extensive collection of works, such as drawings, engravings and paintings from an ethnographic perspective, as well as travel logbooks full of watercolours of indigenous markets.
Back in Teaching
Back teaching in 1987, now on the subject of painting, and after five years of working with still life models, he finds a space in the subject of the human figure, a theme widely explored by him. During this time, he doesn’t have many exhibitions, although it’s worth mentioning the one organised by the University of Granada in the Madraza Palace in 1992, consisting of an extensive neo-romantic vision of the sea of the coast of Cadiz’s Conil, painted between 1989-1991. Landscape is a genre that Antonio started to combine with his study of the human figure in the explorations of nature he starts doing in the North Sierra of Seville in 1977; exploration that produced work for two exhibitions in 1988 and 1990 in the Maria Salvat Gallery in Barcelona.
When Antonio returned to teaching in what had become an academic institution, the painter suddenly had to write a thesis. And so he embarks in a study of collective thinking and artistic manifestations. The result was shown in some publications, such as one by the University of Deusto in March 1994 as an article titled “Science art and religion. Notes for a symbolic reinterpretation”. Antonio’s approach is based on the contribution an artist can make to art history writing, which culminated in the formation of a group of students focused on this dual section of painting/ theory of his teaching.
Portraiture is a special part of the painter’s work, due to the specific characteristics of his exploration of the human figure. Amongst works for private collections, there are commissions by institutions, such as three portraits for the presidency of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces in Madrid; a portrait of his Majesty the King of Spain for the Royal Cavalry Society in Seville, and a few others of the Monarch which hang from the walls of the University of Seville and the Royal Zarzuela Palace. In 1994 the Brotherhood of the Christ of the Great Power in Seville commissions the painter to create a Via Crucis (the 14 stations of the Cross) for their Main Basilica; two years of mental and physical struggle followed to achieve a work that was sober and respectful of both religious sentiment and painting itself; a work where, rather than the neo-baroque iconography of common use in the city, the painter emphasized the values of sacrifice and human suffering pervading the New Testament.
More recently, in the years 2003/4 they organized between Cadiz (the city’s University and the Benot Gallery) and Alcala de Henares (Foundation Colegio del Rey) a retrospective exhibition of human figure drawings and landscapes of Conil, Iguazu Falls and Chiapas painted between 1992 and 2002. In 2007 Casa Peman in Cadiz, sponsored by Cajasol banking, erected on their walls a collection of watercolours, “Cadiz against the light”. And, in the summer of 2008 the Casa de la Provincia in Seville organised an extensive exhibition of the painter’s drawings and watercolours titled “Upon the Paper”.
Antonio in the Press
- Antonio Agudo devuelve la pintura a su ciudad nata, by Miguel Pérez Martín | www.diariodesevilla.es
- Antonio Agudo encierra la luz y el salitre de Cádiz en una nueva colección de acuarelas | www.lavozdigital.es
- Antonio Agudo Pintor – La enseñanza es agotadora, al menos tal y como yo la ejerzo | www.abc.es
- Antonio Agudo -ABC 1988