Jalón Ángel’s sensual and artistic passion for the women of his time in an exhibition

‘Presences. The feminine universe in the work of Jalón Ángel’ is an exhibition that has just opened of 21 portraits of the painter and photographer Jalón Ángel, born in Viana (Navarra) in 1898, who trained in Paris and who settled in Zaragoza in 1926, when he acquired Dücker’s studio (he moved to Seville), and died in Zaragoza in 1976. He had a very well-regarded studio on Alfonso Street and Espoz Mina, and he covered all genres: travel, reports, architecture and, above all, portrait.

It has been the subject of various exhibitions and monographs, including ‘Jalón Ángel (1898-1976). Beyond the photographer’ (Tirant Humanidades) by the photographer and art historian Pilar Irala. His vast archive has passed to the San Jorge University, which presents in the Grupo San Valero Building this careful sample that collects “women in private and public work”, between the 30s and 70s. They are very careful photos, especially in black and white, but they also include portraits in color, including one of the future Queen Sofía, taken in 1968,

In the exhibition there is a little bit of everything: there are some snapshots taken before the during his travels in the 1930s in France, but also on the beaches of San Sebastián or, in an approach that recalls the aesthetics of Ricardo Compairé, the ‘Women of the Pyrenees. Sallent de Gállego’ and, the oldest, one of the women in his family, in Sierra de Codés (Navarra), dated 1927. Another very suggestive photo, which makes one think of another master like Nicolás Muller, is that of ‘Las washerwomen’ from Calatayud, 1940s.

Two of the pieces that do not go unnoticed are two authentic character portraits: ‘Mujer con mantilla’, from Zaragoza in the 1930s, and the actress Irene López de Heredia, in 1934, whom he portrayed on several occasions. In both, as he liked to do, whether with a frontal shot or with oblique lighting, he emphasizes the strength of the eyes and creates an ethereal atmosphere. Humor, or tenderness, appears in a group portrait, in color: four young women who look like waitresses or maids, with their caps and aprons on tiptoe, celebrate the first communion of Gerardo, son of Jalón Ángel, in 1956.

“Jalón Ángel was interested in people, and the universe of women is very present as a fundamental part of the world in which he lives”

Several women, sisters and sisters-in-law and a niece, by Jalón Ángel in 1927.
Jalón Ángel.

A curious collection of portraits by Jalón Ángel, among them, at the top in the center, the actress Irene López de Heredia.
Jalón Ángel.

The aforementioned Pilar Irala is the curator of this exhibition that attempts to expand the vision of this master, Franco’s personal portraitist on several occasions, and has the collaboration of Ramón Albero. They say on the room sheet: “We have discovered that the female presence in Jalón Ángel’s work is continuous and varied. Jalón was interested in people, and the universe of women is very present as a fundamental part of the world in which she lives. Furthermore, Jalón has the ability to portray great personalities or unknown people from small towns with the same dignity and respect.” Pilar Irala goes a little further and adds: “His aesthetic varies from the most institutional and calm in his studio, to the most spontaneous and even joyful and fun in his travels, using high and low angle shots and even at the level, which It allows us to place ourselves at the level of those portrayed and, in this way, get closer to their universe.”

Jalón Ángel is an artist and craftsman with a modern outlook and was an incessant seeker of beauty who found in women a muse, a challenge and a continent of spell and mystery. The exhibition will be open until June 28.

The piece ‘Mujeres del Pirineo’, Sallent de Gállego, 1930. The similarity with Ricardo Compairé is unquestionable.
Jalón Ángel.
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