New Figuration

Gaston Orellana



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Gaston Orellana Painter

Gaston Orellana pittore

Gaston Orellana, born in 1933 in Valparaíso, Chile, to a family of Spanish origin from Extremadura, is a Spanish artist among the most important of the post-war period. This cultural union, between his Chilean roots and Spanish heritage, has contributed to forming an artistic personality of international importance, with a work marked by experiences in the Americas, Europe and the United States.
Gaston Orellana began his artistic training at the Escuela Experimental de Educación Artistica in Santiago, in Chile, and then continued at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de Viña del Mar. During his formative years, he also undertook archaeological studies at the Universidad de Chile, which led him to delve into the primary components of pre-Columbian culture, traces of which can be felt in different phases of his work.
In 1954, the artist met the famous poet Pablo Neruda, starting an intense friendship that lasted until the poet's death. Towards the end of the 1950s, Gaston Orellana moved to Madrid, where he founded the Grupo Hondo in 1959, a cornerstone of the Nueva Figuración, a movement that would receive widespread recognition in the context European. The year 1959 marks another significant event in the artist's career: participation in the exhibition The New Images of Man at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. This experience marked the beginning of his international success, which culminated in 1965 with his move to the United States.
During his stay in New York, Gaston Orellana immerses himself in the vibrant cultural context of the city, establishing close relationships with avant-garde culture and prominent personalities such as Allen Ginsberg and Arthur Miller . In 1970, he was invited to the Venice Biennale with a personal exhibition in the Spanish pavilion. The works on display, including the famous painting El tren en llamas, were acquired by the well-known collector Joseph Hirshhorn for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC.
During his stay in Italy, Gaston Orellana experiments with new techniques, from glass sculpture in Murano to ceramics in Liguria, in Albisola, and fits into a fertile context of exhibitions. He returned definitively to Europe in 1986, where a major exhibition was set up at the Museo Español de Arte Contemporaneo in Madrid, curated by Germano Beringhelli. During this period, Gaston Orellana's art underwent a notable evolution, as demonstrated by the exhibition at the Casa das Artes in Vigo, Spain, in 1995. Here the artist presents the new Orellana, with a painting enriched by techniques derived from terracotta work and the incorporation of themes of greater depth.
In 1995, the art dealer Christian Stein, at the Venice Biennale, declared that Gaston Orellana is the most interesting artist that Spain has created after Tàpies and Miró. In 1998, Stein organized a solo exhibition of the artist at her pavilion at the ARCO fair in Madrid. Gaston Orellana's final years show a further evolution of his works, with the adoption of graffito techniques never before used in painting and the addition of collages of various elements, such as metals and antique mirrors. Through paintings shaped in the shape of letters and the use of multiple canvases, Gaston Orellana introduces a literal dimension to painting, while still maintaining the use of metaphors. In 2005, the work Crucifixion n1 was exhibited for the first time at the Santa Casa di Loreto, property of the Vatican Museums. In the same year, the work La cama escarlata (NY 1967) is included in the exhibition Il male at the Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi in Turin.
Gaston Orellana's work in the last period shows a marked evolution compared to his New York works. He began to create colossal assemblages and polyptychs, using graffiti techniques never used before in painting and introducing collages of various elements such as metals and antique mirrors. With paintings shaped in the shape of letters and the juxtaposition of multiple canvases, Gaston Orellana brings painting towards the art of objects, communicating the literality of the thing in itself, while maintaining the use of metaphors. Gaston Orellana marked the post-war artistic panorama with his bold exploration of new pictorial languages.To date, the Archivo Gastón Orellana, founded in 2018, is dedicated to the preservation, protection and dissemination of its impressive artistic and intellectual heritage.

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