Penetración, 1961

Guerrero’s works from the early sixties (…) made use of fluidity and colour, but above all they are vehement abstract representations of coloured pictorial masses jostling for position inside the picture, which acts as a pictorial field full of natural resonances. The entire surface vibrates with contrasting colours and biomorphic presences.


Variaciones azules, 1957

Stuart Preston, of the New York Times, thought “it is tempting to attribute the violent and dramatic contrasts of colour and the equally violent contrasts between joy and seriousness to the Spanish temperament…” However, it is perhaps an exaggeration to attribute the energy of pictures such as Variaciones azules [Blue Variations] to some type of subliminal Spanishness. It is rather the work of an artist from Granada contemplating his inner world of powerful emotions through an international lens called abstract expressionism, or informal or abstract lyricism, the language of the times.


Ascendentes, 1954

In Spain his youthful awareness of black clothing and the white sunlight on the clay houses continued to cause a disturbance in his memory that he now brought to life on the canvas within the coloured space.

Sombras, 1954

That black, those black suits of my childhood, that mourning that entered into the blood. That blue in the black. Blue sky on the way to the graveyard. That yellow in the black among the chrysanthemums, on the graves. That’s where my painting started.


Black Followers, 1954

Those canvasses were characterized by the presence of irregular patches of a normally dark colour, floating on much brighter chromatic backgrounds. The tones are velvety, and the shifts between the different masses tend to occur creating faint areas of chromatic vacuum. The predominant shapes are vaguely amoeba-like, there are some crosses, and now it is not hard to imagine the presence of birds of the night, tree trunks, black half-moons, etc.


Signos, 1953

Durante los primeros años, la abstracción guerreriana está llena todavía de reminiscencias europeas y de ecos figurativos. En los cuadros (…) se combinan una geometría postcubista, e incluso referencias al mundo de los pájaros de Braque, y planteamientos ya gestuales, característicos del expresionismo abstracto. Pero más que en las aguas del action painting propiamente dicho, Guerrero en ellos todavía parece moverse en las de lo que unos años antes se llamaba, en el propio Nueva York, abstracción biomórfica.


Autorretrato, 1950

The 1950 Self-Portrait, with its anguished expression, holds a certain farewell to Europe, to Matisse, to the cultural profile of the air being left behind (…) the first fully abstract pictures also date from 1950, some of which were to interest Betty Parsons, who showed them in a collective exhibition.



The expression captured in that Self-Portrait, Guerrero’s expression, was the result of an education which, although not corresponding to any programme, was not as random as might appear, and was to continue throughout all his work to follow, where Guerrero shows himself to be a refined artist, able to choose his own influences and references unaffected by the debates or fashions of the moment.


Dos hilanderas, 1948

Like other young European artists in the postwar years, Guerrero found the path transcending the literal to be totally occupied by the old celebrities, who were still very much alive – Matisse, Picasso, and Miró. Hundreds of young painters struggled in the 1940s to assimilate the old vocabulary of cubism without sacrificing their right to introduce new elements. Most of them failed, including Guerrero. There are not many remains of Guerrero’s experiments in Paris, but we can get an idea of his struggle by looking at two pictures with obviously traditional references (as a challenge, perhaps?) – Dos hilanderas [Two Spinners] from 1948, and Hilandera [Spinner] from 1949. Apart from the obvious connection with Velázquez, there is an equally obvious connection with another Spanish painter, from whose shadow few painters escaped – Picasso. The influence of Picasso can be seen especially clearly in the linear execution of hands and feet, as well as in the arbitrary extensions of flat colour. Guerrero’s adaptation is full of misunderstandings and corruptions of cubist vocabulary. But, in the 1949 picture, there is also a deliberate intrusion of colour that foretells his future.


Panorámica de Roma, 1948

From his studio in the Academy, Guerrero painted the rooftops of Rome and alleyways of Rome with the backdrop of the Vatican. He produced a heavy, schematic drawing, underlined by a riot of bright, yet delicate colours, a perpetual Sunday, with nuns and priests strolling, nuns with cornettes turned into light, minimal, agile architectural structures, and priests and bishops as anthropomorphic obelisks.


La aparición, 1946

Lorca’s world, with its gypsy tragedy and black Andalusian depression, inspired the first period of Guerrero’s painting in the years after the Civil War. In 1946, Guerrero painted The Apparition, a magical, somewhat naïve picture; a scene of vigil, with mourning women beside the dead body on the ground, black crosses, strange flowers in the grass, and strange stars and angels or birds in the reddened sky. The picture is easily associated with the dark, superstitious world of Lorca’s tragedies. It could be an illustration for the dénouement of Blood Wedding, when the women receive the bodies of Leonardo and the groom at the door of the house. The mother says, “The cross, the cross,” and the women reply, “Sweet nails, sweet cross, sweet name of Jesus,” and the bride, “May the cross protect the dead and the living.” Or the final part of Poema del Cante Jondo, the “Song of El Amargo’s mother”: “The cross. No-one must cry. / El Amargo is in the moon.” The cross, the moon, the colour black, are recurring symbols in Lorca’s Andalusian poems.