Rutger Brandt Gallery, Amsterdam
Carlos Sagrera: Stretched Realism
There is a renewed appreciation for realistic painting after a long period of not much interest in realism. This is the case in the Netherlands, but also in Spain. On the Iberic peninsula this mostly means that there is a belated recognition for Figuraçion Madrileña. The prestigious museum Thyssen-Bornemisza dedicated an exhibition earlier this year to this very important, but almost forgotten movement of realism. Also the young generation has rediscovered the masters of realism. Carlos Sagrera, 29 years old, is one of them. He had lessons from patriarch Antonio López García and that is shown in his very detailed handwriting and his veiled color use. But Sagrera has been living and painting in Leipzig for a while now and also that is shown in his paintings. He has been influenced by the Neue Leipziger Schule, especially by Matthias Weischer. But what shows the most, is that Sagrera has his own style despite these influences. It is immediately clear that he is incredibly good in painting. Depicted are interiors, sometimes empty and other times full with decent furniture or a student-like mess.
Sagrera’s hyperrealism is good, but when he uses abstract color sweeps it gets really exciting. Which can be in a small spot behind the door or in a spot where you would suspect to be a mirror. But sometimes such a color patch is inexplicable and is just there in the interior. Cabinets and planks are painted over and leave unrecognizable blankets in the vacuum. The painter sees the irregular elements as if they are part of the memories that stick to the depicted interiors: this is where his grandparents, who passed away in 2012, used to live. The psychologization is nice for whom wants to have a story. For the painting lovers it is sufficient to see how the cloth is torn open imaginary. How a sea of paint rages underneath the tight surface. How the realism is being stretched.
Carlos Sagrera graduated for his Fine Arts study in 2011. The main theme in the work of this young Spanish painter are interiors; different spaces of a home in which time seems to have stood still. The spaces evoke associations with the past and as the spectator you wonder if the interiors really existed, or if the are merely created by the artist. What is the story behind these spaces you instinctually associate with your own past, that of fleeting memories. We might recognize the depicted furniture and objects from the fifties and sixties; the period in which the grandparents of Sagrera furnished their home, the home where Sagrera too lived during most of his childhood. Sagrera found old photo’s of this home when it was not yet inhabited. This photo archive is the starting point for a series of paintings: pictorial representations interweaving the past and present.
Sagrera is a big admirer of the Dutch seventeenth century painters and he interprets this period of art history in his very own contemporary way. His highly detailled realistisch style is combined with abstract elements making it hard to categorize him in an specific art-historical movement. The passing of time, the wear and tear in the home, the collective and the personal memory, the history of art and the mystery of everyday life are typical themes of his work. Identity, alienation and the fading of memory are recurring topics of investigation. After graduating from the academy in Spain he received a scholarship to work in the famous Spinnerei in Leipzig, Germany. Sagrera feels connected to the artists of the Leipziger Schule and is able to add his own interpretation of reality to this artistically rich environment.