Rafa Macarrón - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, June 30, 2022 | Phillips
  • 'Everything depends on the power of wonder at life, from there I build my work. I am interested in each of my characters being unique, alive, and having their own soul.' —Rafa MacarrónExecuted on an impressive scale in a carefully controlled palette of deep, forest greens counterpointed by vibrant shocks of fuchsia pink, orange, and cobalt, Untitled brings together a cast of Spanish artist Rafa Macarrón’s fascinatingly strange characters. Characterised by their wildly distorted faces, elongated limbs, and bulbous eyes, these humanoid figures and their playful incorporation of three-dimensional elements animate and disrupt the radically simplified landscape they are set within, juxtaposing a volumetric sense of form with the extreme flatness of the ground. 

    Human Dramas

    Throughout the three-panel work Macarrón maintains deep chromatic and compositional harmonies that highlight the affection with which he approaches his characters, whose strangely misshapen bodies all seem to posses a unique energy and essence of their own. As the artist explains: ‘The characters come out of my everyday life and I take them out of context. They could be individuals living with us. When I create them, I always like to imagine where they come from, what they do, where they go, what life they have.'i


    Joan Miró, The Hunter (Catalan Landscape), 1923-24, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image: © Boltin Picture Library / Bridgeman Images, Artwork: © Succession Miro/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2022 

    Belonging to the artist’s expanding personal and immediately recognisable iconography, the economic rendering of these characters in the artist’s signature graphic style positions Macarrón in a tradition of Spanish painting, drawing particular comparison to the unstructured space, bold colour contrasts, and playful sense of line evident in Joan Miró’s work. Extending the cosmic vision of Miró’s universe, Macarrón keeps our attention focused on the drama of being human, a searching for the transcendental in the everyday that has characterised Macarrón’s approach to artmaking since his earliest childhood endeavours when he ‘used to make drawings full of colour, animals or people taken out from some unknown world.’ii Grounded in these quotidian moments of contemporary life, Macarrón successfully synthesises the contemporary and the art historical, as the present work’s inclusion in the 2011 group exhibition 60 Years 60 Artists Modern and Contemporary Art at the Mystetskyi Arsenal in Kiev shortly after its execution attests to. 

    Drawing on a broad range of art historical and pop culture references that range from comic books and street art to Chilean Surrealist Roberto Matta and the mid-century Spanish El Paso group, Macarrón takes an experimental approach to figuration, describing his figures as ‘born from a fantastic, surreal, and expressionist figuration. I consider them hybrid characters that are closely related to my admiration for Dubuffet, Bonifacio, and Alfonso Fraile. My characters live in a transcended daily life, clean days, sunsets, and fresh air.’iii While one character sits in small cart in the centre of the composition, reaching one, impossibly long arm up to light the cigarette hanging from the mouth of the figure towering above him, another assists with a pump, recalling Dubuffet’s own scenes of everyday urban life. Revealing the marvellous in the everyday through his distinctive treatment, Macarron presents us with a mysterious and tender drama here, the thin, silvery threads loosely connecting the characters capturing the poignant fragility inherent in everyday human connection and the spontaneous energy involved in our life as fundamentally social creatures.


    Left: Jean Dubuffet, Cyclist nue (Nude Cyclist), 1944, The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Image: National Gallery of Art Washington, Gift of the Stephen Hahn Family Collection, 1995.48.2, Artwork: © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2022
    Right: Detail of the present work 

    A former competitive cyclist himself, Macarrón draws compelling comparisons between the two disciplines, painting offering him a similar freedom in solitude and powerful drive to push himself further. This, coupled with his training as a physiotherapist has provided the artist with a carefully studied knowledge of human anatomy, which he directly relates to the distortion of the figure that has become so characteristic of his work. As the artist explains: ‘To create my elongated figures requires knowledge and respect for anatomy. I know the structure of the body perfectly. Then, I begin to try out distortions and deformations, which I think works very well. I am able to create my own characters, each with their own soul and personality.’iv


    Collector’s Digest 

    • Winner of the 2011 BMW Painting awards, Rafa Macarrón’s work is in demand internationally as his reputation as one of Spain’s most interesting emerging artists continues to grow.

    • Following the opening of his first institutional show in March 2021 at the Contemporary Art Centre of Malaga, Macarrón also presented a solo exhibition at La Nave Salinas Foundation in Ibiza. Following exhibitions of KAWS, Keith Haring, and Kenny Scharf, Macarrón is the first Spanish artist to be the focus of a solo show at the foundation.

    • Already this year Macarrón has exhibited with Nino Mier Gallery in Los Angeles, his distinctive work presented across two of their galleries.


    i Rafa Macarrón, quoted in Rom Levy, ‘Artist Interview: Rafa Macarrón’, Street Art News, 26 October 2021, online.  
    ii Rafa Macarrón, quoted in Rom Levy, ‘Artist Interview: Rafa Macarrón’, Street Art News, 26 October 2021, online
    iii Rafa Macarrón, quoted in Rom Levy, ‘Artist Interview: Rafa Macarrón’, Street Art News, 26 October 2021, online.
    iv Rafa Macarrón, quoted in Melissa Mui, ‘Rafa Macarrón Explores Shape-Shifting Characters at La Nave’, Whitewall Art, 20 July, 2021, online.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection, Madrid (acquired directly from the artist)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Kiev, Mystetskyi Arsenal, 60 Years 60 Artists Modern and Contemporary Art, 24 November - 4 December 2011



signed with the artist's initials, titled and dated 'Machaquito RM 11.' lower right
mixed media on canvas, in 3 parts
each 196.5 x 98.5 cm (77 3/8 x 38 3/4 in.)
overall 196.5 x 295.5 cm (77 3/8 x 116 3/8 in.)

Executed in 2011.

Full Cataloguing

£100,000 - 150,000 ‡♠

Sold for £327,600

Contact Specialist

Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
+44 7391 402741


Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 30 June 2022