the respect that his figure has inspired in all the artists and critics that knew
him, and in spite of the influence that he has had on certain artists and critics
of his generation, until now the sculptor and painter Ramón Lapayese has
not been the subject of an in-depth study, perhaps because he was not present,
in the last stage of his career, in the Spanish market and scene. (...)
therefore seems to be time to pay tribute to his figure and work, especially since
a large part of it is practically unknown in Spain.
In the 50s, Lapayese received two grants to travel to Rome (where he also
toured around Italy and part of Europe) and Paris (where he lived for six
years, completing several exhibitions), coming into contact with the avant-garde
European art of that time. His sculptures as well as the magnificent collection
of abstract paintings conserved from that period make up, without a doubt,
a spectacular starting point for an anthology of the artist: perfectly conserved,
these paintings show us diverse reticular structures in relief, impeccably
composed and adorned with deep and dull colors. In these works is the tension
between the geometric sobriety of a Poliakoff -in painting- and the taste
for the archaic and prehistoric that Moore, Giacometti or Germaine Richier
imposed on the sculptures of that period.
these paintings of the early 60s represent, better than any other collection of
his works, the moment in which Ramón Lapayese, feeling sure of himself
as a painter and far from his country, develops a language completely coherent
with the works of his contemporaries. His style is built on these paintings; it
is the symbiosis between what could seem to us to be sculptural forms and a taste
for painting, color and matter, which characterizes Lapayese the painter: his
manipulations of anatomy and volume, those distortions of space characteristic
of the sculptural language that Ramón unconsciously incorporated into his
painting, make it unique, always surprising, refined and alive. Also notable are
his etchings, done in the École des Beaux Arts.
In 1968 he presents
his works for the first time in the Kreisler gallery of Madrid, a place he would
maintain a relationship with until the beginning of the 1980s. (...) Critics discover
him then as a painter, dedicating to him commentaries full of praise. In this
way his long and productive period in Madrid begins. But if we have placed special
emphasis on the formation period of the language and style of Ramón Lapayese,
it has been for a specific reason: we believe that the work of this artist -and,
especially the collection of paintings, sculptures, etchings and drawings that
Lapayese completes from his return to Madrid in 1963 until his last trip to Miami
in 1984- can not in any case be studied from a chronological point of view or,
in other words, focusing on the possible evolution of the stylistic features that
was a remarkable artist who remained faithful to several premises for most of
his life. Not only did his language not change (it is possible to find something
new in each work, but always with an unmistakable and unchanging style): in addition,
he frequently alternates between discoveries and revisions, constantly advancing
into new territory and returning to the familiar.
If we concentrate on
his sculptures, we can observe a permanent preoccupation, one single subject matter:
Lapayese focuses on the human figure, expression, movement, feeling, action...
He studied its anatomy from multiple perspectives, he explored it at times from
a classicist rigour and other times he transformed it into an abstract ode to
movement. But these changes do not constitute "periods" but rather "moments" that
we find throughout his whole life. And in these anatomies, of humans as well as
animals, we will always find these basic structures, the "skeleton" or "backbone"
for which he is indebted to the rediscovery of cave art, and which constituted
the motif of his abstract paintings and sculptures.
On the other hand, we often
find the same motif, the same pose in a painting of Lapayese and in one of his
sculptures: both facets of his work were carried out at the same time, both are
indissoluble and many critics express their preference for one of the two aspect
of his creativity.
His works can thus be grouped by subject matter: his splendid bullfights, peculiar
with Lapayese's typical bull, seen from above and exaggeratedly large, it has
an almost architectonic character, totemic features, which transpires solidness
and potential. (...) In this way all the sensitivity of Lapayese unfolds before
us, we can perceive all the tenderness that emanates from his works; delicate
and fragile figures that seem to hide their faces modestly; anonymous and speechless,
they express themselves through the peculiar transformations of their anatomies,
through the lengthening or widening of their extremities, through their clothes
that are always rich in texture and matter, through their trembling profiles.
commissioned works that Lapayese completed in these years are incredible, but
we prefer to focus on what he produced for the more than fifty individual exhibitions
carried out in different cities of Spain, Europe and the United States, and his
more than one hundred collective exhibitions. The Special Gold Medal in the Biennial
of Zaragoza in 1963 and the II National Award of sculpture, which he obtained
in 1970, are among his most important awards.
Ramón Lapayese perhaps
worked more according to his impulses than guided by a desire for coherence; this
may also explain the extremely vast collection that he has left us. It is true
that Ramón did several works on "whims" or "for fun" which perhaps helped
him to "escape" from his workshop, where commissioned jobs accumulated and there
were always many apprentices working. Upon these works, so necessary and
at the same time so unconventional, Lapayese built the singular artwork that we
Javier Rubio Nomblot
Translation: Lisa Twomey