On the Invisible I - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

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On the Invisible I

Arias, Amable

Bembibre del Bierzo, León, 29/06/1927-San Sebastián, 29/02/1984

Oil on canvas

189.8 x 250 cm


Third quarter of the 20th century


Acquired in 2002

From 1971 his painting, returning to figuration, portrayed an ironic world of small child-like caricatures, multitudinously distributed against abstract backgrounds beautifully rendered using procedures learnt from art informel, with its typical use of extraneous materials.

This apparent contradiction between figure and background is quite clear in a double work, which, despite the parts remaining autonomous, may be seen as a diptych. The first, On the Invisible I, is an elaborate, abstract creation achieved by paint allowed to run freely -recalling works by US artist Clyfford Still- in which appear only the traces of five stencils of humanoid forms. Although these are also to be found in On the Invisible II, in this second work the small characters invade the space, giving the result the luxurious look of some Oriental fabric, on which a fantastic citizenry is portrayed. The artist's doubts about which version he preferred are understandable; it is not easy to choose between the beautiful reduction of the first painting and the sensibility of the age towards empty surfaces and the shapeless, and his need for a more explicit, detailed narrative. (Javier Viar)

Selected bibliography

  • Amable Arias : dibujos de lo invisible [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2003. pp. 8, 23, il,
  • Adquisiciones 02/07 [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2007. pp. 68-69, n° cat. 25.
  • Guía Artistas Vascos. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2008. pp. 135-136.
  • Gida Euskal Artistak. Bilbao, Bilboko Arte Eder Museoa, 2008. pp. 135-136.
  • Guide Basque Artists. Bilbao, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, 2012. pp. 134-135, n° cat. 74b.
  • Amable Arias : kaosari eta zoriari forma = dar forma al caos y al azar [Cat. exp.]. San Sebastián, Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa, 2013. p. 13.
  • Viar, Javier. Historia del arte vasco : de la Guerra Civil a nuestros días, 1936-2016. Bilbao, Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa-Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2017. p. 195.