Alejandro Mieres Three Figures

Inventory no.
on panel
81x62 cm

Three Figures forms part of a collection of eight paintings donated by the artist to the University of Oviedo. They correspond to the years 1951-1953, when he was finishing his studies at the San Fernando School of Fine Arts in Madrid and held his first public exhibition at the Macarrón Gallery. At that time, his life and work was to take another course after reaching the crossroads motivated by attending the Abstract Art Course at Santander Summer University and taking up the teaching of Artistic Drawing at secondary schools in Burgo de Osma, Elche and, from 1960 on, Gijón. That year he settled permanently in Asturias.

The collection consists of ten oil paintings on panels, a technique with medieval roots originally aimed at preserving the painting better than what was possible using canvas. These were joined by a portrait of Rosa, the only work of the set that the artist reserved for his personal collection. From the formal point of view, the works tie in with a neo-figurative schematic expressionism with some touches of the French artist Roualt's articulation of the heavily outlined edges of the figures, highlighted with strong lines and vivid chromatics, which are reminiscent of Fauvist figures and portraits. The style also evokes the contours of the figures painted on ancient Greek pottery. {> The contained, energetic construction and static quality conferred on the figures, as well as the dramatic theme and artistic liberties taken, allow this stage of his work to be related to various currents of historical vanguard movements: Mondrian's composition and some of Picasso's figurative solutions from the 1930s to 50s, with echoes of his treatment of cool tones in the blue period. It should be noted that it was at this time when he discovered the work of José Solana, which was becoming known in Madrid. His study trip to Paris in 1951 allowed him to see an exhibition by Giacometti, make contact with gallery owners and hold his first solo exhibition in in 1952 at the Macarrón Gallery in Madrid. This afforded the then emerging artists like A. Mieres a more than worthy presence, which contrasted with the dominant mediocre post-war painting, as those with creative talent had either gone into exile or were submerged in a kind of self-imposed exile.

These and other works of an expressionist nature were present at this exhibition, from which he came into contact with the "Madrid School" of painters, such as Alvaro Delgado, Francisco San Jose and Luis Saez. Showing in the same gallery as Mieres, though in another section, was his girlfriend and future wife, Rosa Maria Velilla, of whom he painted an excellent portrait in the same expressionist tone, which is at once both vivid and moving.

Lucia Alperi includes this set within the second stage of his artistic production, which goes from his academic training and first exhibitions up until his teaching job at secondary schools before settling in Asturias. It should be noted that there are few surviving examples from this collection, which she qualifies as priceless, because many works were unfortunately burned in a fire at his home in Burgo de Osma in 1958. They testify to the importance of a personal search of renewal within the new artists of reference in the avant-garde styles, consigned to oblivion in Spain in those years. Mieres shows originality in making his way along paths differing from those followed by the then sizeable "Madrid School", devoted to painting portraits, still life and, above all, Castilian and '98-esque landscapes. Curiously enough, after a major stylistic twist, Alejandro Mieres was to employ the latter in the formulation and definition of his future, defining style of abstraction and monochromes of materials modelled by light.

The works were donated following his solo exhibition "Alexander Mieres. Matter and Light", held in Gijón in 1993 at the "Revillagigedo Palace" International Art Centre under the auspices of the Caja de Asturias. Some of them were on public display for the first time at this exhibition, which was curated by the university lecturer Julia Barroso Villar. The author expressed his gratitude in this way for the effort involved in selecting a body of work that he had cast aside, not being fully aware of its originality and value.

This work shows a group of three standing figures. One is a naked man whose body is done in predominately impasted blue tones, counterpointed in ochres, brown and orange. He has a small head for the canon and stands very much front on, with his eyes wide open and in full view.

In the centre, there is a woman covered with a yellow tunic whose vertical folds, reminiscent of Greek classicism, are painted in two shades of ochre. Her head, facing forward, is covered with red ochre, as are her shoulders. Powerful open eyes evoke the capturing of these stylistic features by Cubism and its legacy. The third figure seems to be a naked youth, his body depicted in bright, orange-tinged ochre tones. This young man and the woman are coupled at the shoulders, a conjoining which is also suggested by the palm shape allusive to hands. Their other two arms lie nearly perpendicular along their bodies terminating in large hands.

Yet again we find references to the human essentialism of post-war figuration, as mentioned in some previous works, with the strong stamp of expressionist colours.

Text and cataloguing: Julia Barroso Villar. Professor of Art History. Honorary Professor, University of Oviedo.

Bibliographical references
  • ALPERI ÁLVAREZ, L. (2011) La obra artística de Alejandro Mieres, Memoria de Investigación de Doctorado, inédita, leída en septiembre de 2011, dirigida por la Prof.ª Dra. Natalia Tielve García, Universidad de Oviedo.
  • BARROSO VILLAR, J. (1985) "La pintura de Alejandro Mieres", en Liño. Revista Anual de Historia del Arte, nº 5. Oviedo: Universidad de Oviedo.
  • BARROSO VILLAR, J. (1993) Alejandro Mieres: materia y luz [Libro-catálogo], Palacio de Revillagigedo. Oviedo: Caja de Asturias.
  • BARROSO VILLAR, J. (1994) "Religiosidad y vanguardia españolas ¿una asignatura pendiente?". En Los clasicismos en el arte español. Madrid: C.E.H.A.
  • BARROSO VILLAR, J.; L. FEÁS COSTILLA (2002) "Alejandro Mieres", en Artistas asturianos. Pintores (IV). Oviedo: Hércules Astur de Ediciones.
  • BARROSO VILLAR, J.; N. TIELVE (2005), Arte actual en Asturias, un patrimonio en curso. Gijón: Trea.
  • QUIJADA ESPINA, A.; R. RODRÍGUEZ ÁLVAREZ; S. VÁZQUEZ-CANÓNICO COSTALES (2004) Bienes culturales de la Universidad de Oviedo. Oviedo: Universidad de Oviedo.
  • VILLA PASTUR, J. (1981), Alejandro Mieres. Ensayo crítico-biográfico. Oviedo: Caja de Ahorros de Asturias.
Location on the mapUbicación de la obra en las instalaciones de la Universidad


  • Universidad de Oviedo
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