Rafa Macarrón - New Now London Thursday, July 13, 2023 | Phillips
  • “My painting is realistic surrealism, my characters could live among us or in another world.”
    —Rafa Macarrón

    In the tender scenes of daily life that characterise Spanish artist Rafa Macarron’s bold, bright canvases, the beach plays an especially important role. A democratic and inclusive public space, the beach is where young and old, rich and poor can gather together in leisure – a true representation of the rich diversity and narrative complexity of contemporary life. Just as the vibrant, everyday energy of Paris’ streets dominated Jean Dubuffet’s work after his return to the city in the 1960s, bathers and the beach provide the perfect premise for Macarrón’s artistic investigation of the everyday. Tellingly, bathers and beaches formed the central focus of Macarrón’s first solo exhibition El bañista (The Bather) at Fundación La Nave Salinas in Ibiza in 2021, and more recently the City Council of Estepona, Malaga has recently unveiled Macarrón’s large sculptural figure Perro I on its seafront. 


    “I don’t like to put titles, but ‘El Bañista’ has been the guiding thread of the work and all the elements have to do with the beach, the clothing, the spaces …”
    —Rafa Macarrón


    Focussed on community, class, and leisure, Macarrón’s beach scenes continue a late 19th century trend in painting first explored by the likes of Éugene Boudin and Édouard Manet and developed in the joyous, brightly coloured canvases of Raoul Dufy. Indeed, while the beach provides the perfect conceit for bringing together a whole host of Macarrón’s instantly recognisable and highly animated figures, the saturated coastal light also allows the artist to explore the expressive power of colour. Recalling the rich intensity of André Derain and Henri Matisse’s depictions of Antibes and St. Tropez, Macarrón confidently uses colour to generate certain moods within his works. Discussing his process and the role played by colour in more detail the artist has explained: ‘I create the background and then I place the figure. I use the extremities of the figures, textures, or background elements to break with the flatness and generate volumes, textures, and a sense of perspective. Colours also help me create atmospheres, like when I use magentas to create warmth.’i 


    Here, Macarrón’s use of cooler, blue-toned hues imbues the work with a calmer, uplifting quality that recalls fellow Spaniard Pablo Picasso’s celebrated cycle of bathers from the 1930s. Like Picasso too, drawing is central to Macarrón’s practice, the elongated limbs and exaggerated features of his highly animated figures retaining a strikingly graphic quality that is grounded in the anatomical knowledge that he developed during his training as a physiotherapist. As the artist describes, ‘I like to evolve by drawing […] Everything I see catches my attention, from a sunset to nature, the environment, reading or anything that passes in front of my eyes, and if later you are able to transmit this to the canvas, that’s what makes the painting vibrate. To be an artist or painter you have to say something.’ii At once familiar and alien, in these playful scenes of everyday life, Macarrón captures something of the simplicity of sociability and the need for community and human connectivity.



    i Rafa Macarrón, Street Art News, 26 October 2021, online.

    ii Rafa Macarrón, ‘Inspiration Always Appears While I Draw’, Diario de Ibiza, 27 August 2021, online.   

    • Provenance

      Gerhardt Braun Gallery, Palma
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


Un día en la playa

signed with the artist's initials and dated 'RM 17' lower right
acrylic, ink, crayon, paper and plastic collage on linen, in artist’s acrylic box
114.5 x 114.5 cm (45 1/8 x 45 1/8 in.)
Executed in 2017.

Full Cataloguing

£50,000 - 70,000 ‡♠

Sold for £57,785

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Charlotte Gibbs
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now
+44 20 7901 7993

New Now

London Auction 13 July 2023