2020 marked the centenary of the publication of the book 'La España Negra' by artist José Gutiérrez Solana. Coinciding with the release of the first edition, in 1920, Solana painted one of his most famous works 'La tertulia del Café de Pombo', hung in the Centro Nacional de Arte Reina Sofía.
Solana's painting is not surreal but goes beyond surrealism. A reality sought and lived; one might say enjoyed. He feels pity for all the marginal characters he portrays in his plastic and literary work, but instead of seeing them through condescending treatment, what he does is join them in their environment, and decides to live marginality itself. He lives in Inns, stayed in brothels, and taverns go to bullfights, processions, burials, wakes, festivals, and dances of prostitutes and pimps. He decides to get to know and relate to the lives of these characters and the towns he walks through, full of dust and cheap wine.
"La España Negra" is to travel by the hand of a unique guide, the person who embodies Antonio Machado's poem 'I have walked many roads' describes... Solana does know because he drinks the wine of the taverns. Because he is one of them, he mixes with the homeless, converses with the old men who sunbathe, goes on pilgrimages, travels in third-class train wagons, eats in taverns, stays in inns. He describes everything with photographic meticulousness, collecting every memory, and telling a passionate and dramatic story.
He speaks of cripples and beggars, of sad prostitutes who have a gesture of pain and kindness in their mouths.