Luis Gordillo was born in Seville in 1934, the second of eight brothers and sisters. He began the career of Law at university. However, he did not finalize these studies because of dedicating himself to his great vocation - painting. Finally, and without the approval of his parents, he registered in the Academy of Fine Arts in his city of birth where he only was to stay for 2 years.
Two years later, he went to live in Paris where he made contact with the popular tendencies of those years, discovering the detailed painting of Wols and de Michaux, and the liberty of Tapies and Millares. His style acquires informal lines, with a register of black over white.
In 1959, and having returned to Spain, Gordillo began to doubt even his artistic vocation. He heldhis first individual exhibition in Seville, to then establish himself definitively in Madrid in search of an artistic environment which was “more cultural, plural and modern”.
In Madrid in 1963 he discovered Pop Art at an exhibition with the works of Francis Bacon, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol and this makes his conception of painting take an unexpected turn. He began to do his automatic drawings, each time more figurative. Up until then, he had done works within the denominated abstract and experimental art in which there was an abundance of the use of collage with newspapers, in spite of the fact that he never considered himself an abstract painter.
In 1963 he commenced his relationship with psychoanalysis and this was to affect notably his painting, he coming to consider his work as a way of getting over a vital anxiety. One year after in Madrid he presented his first individual exhibition in which he defined himself as a painter of the post informalism, mixing his own elements of Pop with geometry.
A personal crisis made him abandon painting for a time, in 1969 taking it up again, and one year later, through pictures full of colour and with a key element - irony - developed as his personal seal as an artist. Two exhibitions will crown this stage, one in the Maeght gallery in Barcelona – where inclusively is coined the term “gordillism” – and another in the Bilbao Museum of Fine Arts.
As from the decade of 1980, his work passed through a stage of greater symbolic complexity, with a lesser incidence of figuration, leaving Pop Art in order to go deeper into abstraction and developing a type of colder painting, equally in its chromatic range and his personal detachment from his themes. Up to today, the themes developed by Gordillo follow a laberynth like route, as well as cerebral meanders which go round a cellular world coming out from a stain which comes to occupy a great part of the composition.
“I have always had an aversion to following one sole channel. I asphyxiate myself when the thing begins to repeat itself. For that reason, I like extra work: destroying, and beginning again. When things end up looking nice, I get suspicious.”
During all his career, Gordillo has debated between direct and expressive work and the realization of a controlled work, clean and perfectionist, in which from as many as 70 mechanical techniques have influenced, such as offset, photography and the computer.
“ … that each colour may have its field, its psychic weight and is exercising tension for some passion or pain. That is the definition of painting.”
His work is found exhibited in numerous public and private collections, among them being: The National Museum Centre of Art of Reina Sofia, the Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona, the Andalusian Centre of Modern Art in Seville, the Valencian Institue of Modern Art, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Artium of Vitoria, the Foundation “La Caixa”, the Juan March Foundation, amongst many more.
Innumerable prizes and awards mark out his life. Gordillo currently continues to work with intelligence and of course with a brilliant irony.
“I got tired of painting, but drawing is like going for a walk; it is a recreation; very direct, spontaneous , which does not produce for me any mental pains. I can do it for hours and feel very rewarded. Each time I will do it more.”
The quotes are taken from the EL PAIS BABELIA 22nd January 2021.
- “Sin título”, mixed technique on Arches paper, 2003.
- “Costuras”, hand reworked screenprints, 1992.