Guido Llinás (1923 - 2005)

Untitled (1978)

Oil on canvas
height: 80cm
width: 100cm

Donated by Ruta Correa 1996


One of the leading figures in the formation of Cuba's strident abstract-informalist movement Los Once (1953-55) Guido Llinás is recognised for his dynamic works in both painting and woodcut: a medium to which he adapted his gestural technique by using a spade-like tool to tear into wood. His work has developed within successive extended series including the Pinturas Negras, of which this 1978 painting is an example.

In the composition of his work Llinás seeks to explore colour as a concrete phenomenon, without intentional investment of literal or symbolic meaning. He famously insists upon the status of black as a colour, with its own variations of depth and tone. The Pinturas Negras are significant as the exploration, or search for proof, of this insistence. Throughout the series this colour - in its pure state or mixed with barely detectable tints of dark red or Prussian blue - dominates.

Having, since the 1950s, developed his practice in close engagement with the automatist tenets of informal and abstract expressionist painting, Llinás works according to improvisation and invites accident into his compositions by removing areas of colour with water poured onto painted canvas. The final composition of his paintings is 'read,' and titled, only after completion. Here, as Llinás explains in his Artist Statement, the image is named a Pintura Negra because black emerges as the dominant colour.

Isobel Whitelegg, 2008

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