Antonio López and the magic that illuminates ordinary life
One of the world’s most widely respected realist painters, Antonio López is a tireless artist who lives in pursuit of the exact nuance. That is why his art stops time, his paintings capturing the light in moments that remain forever unchanged.
A genius with light
What exactly do we mean when we talk about light in painting? Throughout most of the history of art, natural light has been the raw material that has made it possible to capture colour on canvas, the same way that form is the source for a sculptor, sound for a musician.
Antonio López (Tomelloso, Ciudad Real, 1936) wanted to capture reality and its infinite nuances. A reality that changes, because the light changes, with every passing second. The method he chose was direct observation, positioning himself in his chosen spot and painting from his study of the natural world.
Antonio sculpting Mari.
Incredible as it may seem when looking at his paintings up close, Antonio López never paints from photos. He prefers to pick an instant from the infinite flow of moments, rather than borrowing from an image that has been frozen, now unalterable, through the lens of a camera. This approach is one of the hallmarks of his style.
It all started one summer
Painter Antonio López Torres discovered in the summer of 1949 that his nephew had a gift for drawing. He noticed that he had an unusual skill in copying 19th century plates and decided to help him with his first drawings and paintings of nature.
From then on, his work reflected the light of his native Tomelloso. From 1960 onwards he would discover the new urban landscape that would enrich his early influences: the city where he produced paintings like Madrid desde el cerro del Tío Pío (Madrid from Tío Pío Hill) (1963) and, of course, La Gran Vía (1974-1981).
Antonio y Mari painting in the Cerro del Tío Pío, 1978
At the age of sixteen he painted landscapes in broad daylight, then he discovered sunsets and, finally, sunny scenes again appeared in his paintings. He always invested the time he required (years, even) throughout this cycle to recreate the picture in his mind and to capture just the right emotion. To that end, he returns to the same place at the same time over and over again.
Gran Vía, 1974-81. Oil on panel, 93,5 x 90,5 cm.
Time and light
Antonio López’s creative process is documented in the film
El sol del membrillo (Dream of Light) (Víctor Erice, 1992). In it we see the artist in his pursuit, chasing the moment when the sun’s rays strike the quince (membrillo in Spanish) to create the right colour, just as the fruit begins to ripen.
Decades earlier he had already sought this effect in works such as Membrillero (Quince Tree) (1961), just as he also returned to the same streets of Madrid to paint other moments that are now captured for posterity. An example is his Gran Vía at 7:30, which he painted every first of August from 2009 to 2011.
Membrillero, 1992, oil on canvas, 105 x 119,5 cm.
Sunlight is the most unpredictable natural phenomenon that we can observe. Imagine the sea: even with all its mass in motion, we know that it is always there, that it remains even after the sun goes down. Light, however, is intangible and fleeting, and that is why every artist develops their own technique to capture it on the canvas. Antonio López holds a special place in the history of art thanks to his skill in showing the magic that illuminates any ordinary scene.
Antonio López's only artist's book is in ARTIKA
- Bodies and Flowers is a unique, now sold-out edition. Antonio López was involved in every step of the book’s creation.
- It depicts the passage of time through two of his most emblematic themes: nudes and flowers.
- Only 2998 copies exist, all signed by the painter and sculptor.
- It features an Art Book, an exclusively designed case and a giclée print that reproduces a numbered edition of Rosas de Ávila (Roses of Ávila), one of Antonio López's most famous paintings.
- It includes 60 reproductions, most of them full sized, providing a detailed view of his work.