Repression - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

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Blanco, Dionisio

Valle de Trápaga-Trapagaran, Bizkaia, 18/09/1927-Bilbao, 10/04/2003

Oil on paper stuck to board

70.2 x 100 cm

D. Blanco (bottom left hand corner)


Last third of the 20th century


Acquired in 1977

Blanco was a construction worker. An accident in 1949 left him an invalid and he thereafter devoted himself to painting. With Agustín Ibarrola, he was the Basque painter most systematically concerned with recording police repression, the claims of the workers and the connivance of the local oligarchy in the Basque Country with the Franco dictatorship. He did so through an intimate, apparently naïf figuration expressed in deceptively child-like drawing that was in fact quite sophisticatedly rendered. Working the oil repeatedly with his fingers, Blanco created an expressive procedure with highly nuanced textures looking not unlike enamelling. The innocent beauty and the extreme lyricism of his paintings were in sharp contrast to the harshness of his themes, a contrast that gave his works much of their interest. Blanco belonged to Estampa Popular (Popular Print), an art movement committed to social and political reality. The Bizkaia section of Estampa Popular was set up in 1962. He was also involved in the creation of the Emen group in 1966.

Repression, which recreates an arrest made by the National Police of the time, known as los grises (the greys) after the colour of their uniforms, sent to repress the disturbances caused by protesting students and workers, is one of the many police scenes Blanco described. The way the moment is rendered, in slow time, frozen, like the nebulous vision of a dream, adds to the harshness of the theme. [Javier Viar]

Selected bibliography

  • Bengoechea, Javier de. Catálogo de arte moderno y contemporáneo del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. Bilbao, Banco de Vizcaya, 1980. p. 36. (Con el título Represión).
  • Entre la figuración y la abstracción : arte contemporáneo en las colecciones del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao [Cat. exp.]. Pamplona, Museo de Navarra, 1999. pp. 52-53.
  • Guía Artistas Vascos. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2008. pp. 137-138.
  • Gida Euskal Artistak. Bilbao, Bilboko Arte Eder Museoa, 2008. p. 137.
  • Guide Basque Artists. Bilbao, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, 2012. pp. 136-137, n° cat. 75a.
  • Laboratorios 70 : poéticas, políticas y crisis de la modernidad en el contexto vasco de los setenta. Bilbao, Sala Rekalde Erakustaretoa, 2009. p.17.
  • 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. pp. 159-160, il.
  • Después del 68 : arte y prácticas artísticas en el País Vasco, 1968-2018 [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao, Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa-Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2018. pp. 57, 146, 318, il.