Alfonso Monreal

 

ALFONSO Monreal's exhibition is called Encuentros and is made up of paintings and monoprints, often allied in subject matter but not in style. As you might expect the "native" Latin American element is strong, with an exotic, very frontal style which occasionally suggests Rufina Tamayo and other artists who have forged a distinctive South American style.

The monotypes are linear and generally rather sparse in their imagery, tending rather to use the same circle of ideas and themes. Monreal is technically, of course, an exceptionally skillful graphic artist but it seemed to me that these were more about technique than about expression in fact curiously disengaged emotionally. He has done better in the past, and the invention somehow lacked the fire and liveliness of previous exhibitions.

The paintings often feature a dominant, in fact domineering central figure to whom everything else is subordinate, facing you like an accuser across a table, or a grand inquisitor, or a ruler priest of the old Aztec or Mayan cultures. This indeed is what the title of the exhibition hints at, and it is also inherent in the monoprints. There is a sinister, almost disembodied ambience about them, but also a certain obviousness and repetitiveness again, with a few exceptions, Monreal has produced better and more original pictures in the past.