From a young age (1954-58) Lafuente painted very strongly coloured figures that were dramatic and alone; isolated in their own markedly expressive destiny.


Throughout this first stage of his artistic career, and until 1962, Lafuente continued his art on his own, putting onto canvas his characters in the classical resting poses, and these characteristic figures were later to become a constant feature of his paintings. His magnificent “Paisaje” of 1963, (“Landscape”), which was a work of quasi-material abstraction in red and ochre tones, and “Torero” (“Bullfighter”) of the same year, along with “Desnudo con flor” (“Nude with flower”) of the following year, these latter two being more ironical and expressionist, were his most interesting pieces of work of this stage of his career.



 PHASE 1/1954-1964


In the same year, 1964, Lafuente starts leaning towards an expressive abstraction of biological and anatomical forms, and his painting becomes more elaborate and refined with “Ornamento de una mujer” (“Ornament of a woman”) and “Ornamento de un hombre” (“Ornament of a man”), both created in 1964, which were figures taken apart and analysed in terms of their own internal structure.


The world of ballet and the circus seem to stylise and bring to life the structure of the figures he paints and the whole paintings themselves. His 1965 works such as “Torso” (“Torso”), “Figura y ave” (“Figure and bird”), “Muchacha sujetando una flor” (“Girl holding a flower”), showed stylised figures in resting poses, drawn over neutral backgrounds, and were to lead on to later works such as “Figura conturbada” (“Perturbed figure”) of 1966, and “Personajes destruyéndose” (“People self-destructing”) of 1967

“Figuras acostadas en su paisaje” (“Figures lying in their landscape”) of 1969, which makes use of ochre hues is perhaps his most classic and serene piece of work, and could be said to be the pinnacle of this whole first Expressive Abstract phase.


PHASE 2/1964-1970

Intelligence and rational thinking are applied directly to captivate the boundless outside reality. He no longer gives names to his paintings in the same way as he did before. By 1970, pinks, greens, violets and blues form his artistic compositions – pictures within pictures, with almost fluorescent backgrounds. This is one of his most powerful stages, full of vitality, beauty and excitement where he breaks up the human figure into white, at rest, in movement, and in athletic postures.


In his 1972 works, the human figure in motion is placed on geometrical backgrounds that acquire an ever greater dynamic force. The individualized human figure appears schematically modelled, with a degree of poetic pop-art, reduced iconically to the head, bust, and profile.


The masterwork of this stage is his 1974 painting “El hombre urbano” (“Urban man”), a médium-sized, beautiful and sober composition in which the outline of a blue man appears immersed in an urban landscape. This painting exhibits great purity in terms of colours, forms, and symbols. This painting draws to a close a particularly fruitful and prolific stage that now turns into a particularly powerful geometric abstract phase.


PHASE 3/1970-1975



Lafuente´s mind is always on the move, cooking up new ideas, and in 1975 he makes a coherent yet risky step towards a repertoire based on a serious and rigorous Geometrical Abstraction.


Blue, red and black, along with orange, yellow, and pink combinations placed as rectangular forms are what Lafuente is to use up to the year 1978. This is when kinetic elements from other stages of his artistic career are to make their presence felt in his work.


His experimental and progressive art, always attentive to his experiences of the previous decade in terms of colour, form, rhythm and space, gradually creates an endless set of variations that are always fresh, precise, rigorous, and geometrical.


This rational and intellectual work may at first sight strike one as somewhat cold, but it is bold.


 FASE 4/1975-1986


From the beginning of the90s, his works were shaken by a brusque change. What previously featured the saturation and opacity of painting now featured the trembling transparencies of water-colour; instead of the hard edge which defined his forthright geometrical planes, stains, mixture and lack of definition now appeared. “Narrative” nuances and aspects, achieved with a paintbrush, increased. Instead of the project as a previous decision the work was inclined towards the acceptance of what they turned out to be, of their accidents, their discoveries and the unexpected.


Without a doubt, the necessity to open up his painting to the new horizons, since the “isolated place” that his workshop had been converted into during his lengthy period of working with geometry, threatened to become a prison which smothered other possibilities as regards his works. And from this form, hitherto unheard-of elements in his painting, or to be more precise, elements that had not featured in his works since the closing stages of the sixties and the start of the seventies, appeared: stain, gesture, texture. All of this was framed within a visual concept which continued to be profoundly geometrical, although in this case it emphasized the impressionist value of the nuances.



 FASE 5/1986-2005

In the years – well over a decade now – since Lafuente´s work has become well known, what is most striking first and foremost is his use of geometrical forms in his work. Lafuente, who was born in Vitoria in 1937, shows us throughout all his work his belief in the strength of geometry in art, he was adept at ordering multiple spaces and a classical builder of real spaces that are unusually beautiful, resounding and solitary in the eyes of twentieth and twenty first century man.


Throughout his artistic career, Lafuente worked in his studio, away from his surroundings, but not completely isolated from them. He was never one for groups or gangs of friends; his work is done alone, not succumbing to current fashions and passing trends, but always aware of the major vanguardian tendencies.

However, perhaps the most striking feature is that Lafuente adopted this way of painting and of refined forms in an instinctive, independent, and self taught manner. He is like the inscrutable feline that keeps his best ideas to himself. From within his own mind there is an outpouring of rich, mature, deep and weighty work, both rational and instinctive at the same time. It is precisely his ability to reconcile these last two aspects that has contributed to his success as such an important figure in twentieth century Basque Art.


There are few other artists that have managed to combine rational values and geometric forms with the more instinctive and sensorial characteristics of colour as successfully as Lafuente has. His work can therefore be appreciated through not only the eye of the beholder, but also through the intelligent mind.





Museo Artium ( Obras 257 / 329 / 331 )

Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

Colección Ipiña - Bidaurrazaga





1 / 2



1 / 2 / 3 /  4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 /










RAFAEL LAFUENTE 2014.  All rights reserved


Envio en curso...

The server encountered an error.

Form received.