Cena familiar (Family Dinner)

Ángeles Santos

Portbou, Girona, Spain, 1911 - Madrid, Spain, 2013
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  • Technique: 
    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 
    96 x 127 cm
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The success of the painting Un mundo (A World, 1929) represents a turning point in the artistic career and personal life of Ángeles Santos. Her contact with intellectuals and artists, primarily in Madrid, although also sometimes in Valladolid, her place of residence, provided her with a stimulus, encouraging a keen interest in reading, along with an uncommon and almost feverish artistic activity. Josep Casamartina describes how the budding painter’s life at the time was one of constant conflict. This eagerness to learn about and experience the new trends of the avant-garde clashed with daily life in the closed environment of a provincial city. This situation even extended to Santos’s family life, as Casamartina highlights: “One fruit of this conflict is the painting Familia cenando (Family Dining), also titled Familia (Family) and Cena familiar (Family Dinner), probably painted after the 1929 Autumn Salon. In this work, the influence of Goya’s Black Paintings is obvious. The members of a bourgeois family, in this case the artist’s own, with servants and a cook, become starving, coarse brutes who eat compulsively, crowded around a humble and meagre table. Angelita’s mother, a slim, elegant lady who played the piano, is transformed into a monster with cretinous features who eats entire potatoes with her hands, as does one of the girls, who imitates her like a little chimpanzee. The canvas is large, impeccably executed and sharp, despite its powerful expressive, almost exaggerated, intent.” Indeed, here the influence of the Black Paintings is expressed as magnified criticism, which Santos combines with a marked sense of caricature. The result is a scene which resembles the most biting compositions of German artist George Grosz.

Paloma Esteban Leal