Solo exhibition of paintings. Artist and curator Conchi Alvarez.
Part of my family comes from Castromembibre, a small Castilian village with less than 100 inhabitants, located in the province of Valladolid, very close to the province of Zamora. The town is hidden away in a hollow making it invisible to the naked eye until you reach the entrance of the town. It is held extremely close to my heart.
I vividly remember each year approaching the town in our filled to the brim car ready to spend the whole summer there! My heart would beat so fast just thinking about if anything had changed, and if the image of Castro, as we called the town so affectionately, was still the same. From the moment we took the turning from Tiedra to Castromembibre, my imagination ran wild, filling with all the memories that I experienced over the previous years in my Castreño paradise.
Each stretch of the road was an incremental accumulation of emotion and pure delight, which in my head played to the rhythm of Ravel’s Bolero! It was always after the last curve, the pinnacle of suspense, where my small paradise suddenly appeared into view. As a child and the hopeless romantic that I was, I used to marvel at how it was hidden from the eyes of others and from any possible invader attacks. I used to believe that this hidden town, reinforced by the fact that the road ended where the town began, was the perfect refuge in the case of war. It was a safe haven, my safe haven, which always added comfort and happiness to every stay.
My childhood summer experiences were intense and are ever engrained in my memory. Over the years however, our stays have become shorter and shorter, but each visit, even if it is only once a year, always unleash the feeling that I have arrived home and that I have never been absent.
I have always taken photos, capturing moments for me to remember, never thinking that I would actually use them to dedicate and create a series of paintings. It has only been more recently, having taken a more pragmatic and mature view, that my feelings have become more tangible for my beloved town, Castro, and the Castreños who live there. The selection of characters that I have chosen to display does not have a common thread; they are simply painted from moments that I have captured through photos (very bad photos by the way!) over the years, and that each time I look back over them, they emotionally captivate, excite and surprise me.
Above all, I have chosen to display the elderly people of the town, the great protagonists of rural Spain, constituting the majority of the population. Each painting represents an iconographic type: the Poet (my dear father); the Thoughtful (Ángel); the Observer (“Watching life go by”); the Faithful Castilian Follower of Tradition and Fighter until the end (“Nicanora” and “Nicanora green shirt”). I could not miss out the priests of the town, in this case the two of them, but from different moments.
Special importance has been given to two brothers very dear to all, Eulogio and Luisito. In a time without many commodities or much assistance, Eulogio had to take care of his blind mother and his disabled brother. We all loved Luisito, an endearing character, always under the watchful eye of Eulogio. It was in fact Eulogio who asked me to take the pictures of the two of them before Luisito died. I hope that Eulogio, a wise and most thorough man, who sacrificed his life for his family, will see this little tribute which I consider to be a prime example of brotherly love.
Some of the characters are closer to me than others, but overall, the desire is to capture their souls and create a permanent memory through painting. All of the portraits are acrylics on paper and have been painted as soon as the ideas formulated in my mind, with the ideas exploding onto paper, insisting on becoming set in stone. They have been created without previous sketching or drawing, but with the help of (bad!) photographs, which have been essential in capturing all the finer details.
The only Landscape in the exhibition is an oil on paper piece and represents the forest of Castreño souls that I have painted. It is a sheltered haven of peace in the middle of the Castilla steppe, where one can find the “Fountain of Los Villares” near Castro. It is a beautiful place, an archaeological site with remains of an ancient Roman village, where one will find a small group of trees exuding a real feeling of magic upon entering into its grove.
Interview in Estepona TV Chanel, about the exhibition (in spanish)